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First Edition November 1913 
Reprinted Novembei- 1913 

PREFACE 1"^^^ 

Men and women are divided, in relation to their papers, 
into hoarders and scatterers. Miss Nightingale was a 
hoarder, and as she lived to be 90 the accumulation of 
papers, stored in her house at the time of her death, was 
very great. The papers referring to years up to 1861 had 
been neatly done up by herself, and it was evident that not 
everything had been kept. After that date, time and 
strength to sort and weed had been wanting, and Miss 
Nightingale seems to have thrown little away. Even 
soiled sheets of blotting-paper, on which she had made 
notes in pencil, were preserved. By a Will executed in 
1896 she had directed that all her letters, papers, and 
manuscripts, with some specific exceptions, should be 
destroyed. By a Codicil executed in the following year she 
revoked this direction, and bequeathed the letters, papers, 
and manuscripts to her cousin, Mr. Henry Bonham Carter. 
After her death the papers were sorted chronologically by 
his direction, and they have formed the principal founda- 
tion of this Memoir. 

Of expressly autobiographical notes. Miss Nightingale 
left very few. At the date of the Codicil above mentioned 
she seems to have contemplated the probability of some 
authoritative record of her life ; for in that year she wrote 
a short summary of what she called " My Responsibility to 
India," detailing her relations with successive Secretaries 
of State, Governors-General, and other administrators. 
Her memory in these matters was still accurate, for the 
summary is fully borne out by letters and other papers 
of the several dates : it adds some personal details. In 
private letters she sometimes recounted, at later times, 
episodes or experiences in her life, but such references are 


few. Nor, except for a few years, did Miss Nightingale 
keep any formal diary ; and during the Crimean episode 
she was too incessantly busy with her multitudinous duties 
to find time for many private notes. 

The principal authority for Miss Nightingale's Life is 
thus the collection of papers aforesaid, and these are very 
copious in information. The records, in one sort or another, 
of her earlier years are full. The papers relating to her work 
during the Crimean War are voluminous, and I have supple- 
mented the study of these by consulting the official docu- 
ments concerning Miss Nightingale's mission which are 
preserved, among War Office papers, in the Public Record 
Office. Her papers relating to public affairs during the 
years 1856 to 1861 are also very voluminous. After the 
latter date she seems, as already stated, to have kept almost 
everything, even every advertisement, that she received. 
She often made notes for important letters that she sent, 
and sometimes kept copies of them. Of official documents, 
of printed memoranda, pamphlets, reports, and returns, she 
accumulated an immense collection. And though she was 
not a regular diarist, she was in the habit of jotting down on 
sheets of notepaper her engagements, impressions, thoughts, 
meditations, as also in many cases reports of conversations. 

The collection of letters received by Miss Nightingale, and 
of her notes for letters sent by her, has been supplemented, 
through the kindness of many of her correspondents or their 
representatives, by letters which were received from her. 
I am more especially indebted in this respect to the care 
of the late Sir Douglas Galton, whose docketed collection 
of letters from Miss Nightingale, taken in conjunction with 
a long series of his letters to her, forms a main authority for 
much of the record of her activity in public affairs. Her 
letters to Julius and Mary Mohl, returned to her after the 
death of the latter, are, in another way, of peculiar interest. 
I am particularly indebted, among the lenders of letters ad- 
dressed to nursing friends, to Miss Pringle and to the father 
of the late Mrs. Daniel Morris (Miss Rachel Williams) . Miss 
Pringle has also favoured me with personal reminiscences. 

For permission to print letters written to Miss Nightin- 


gale, I am indebted to many of her relations, friends, 
and correspondents, or their representatives ; to so' many, 
indeed, that I ask them to accept here a general acknowledg- 
ment. I am especially indebted to the King, who has been 
pleased to permit the publication of letters from Queen 
Victoria and some other members of the Royal Family. 
The German Emperor has graciously given a like permission 
in the case of correspondence with the Empress Frederick. 
The Dowager Grand Duchess (Luise) of Baden has allowed 
me to quote from a long series of letters addressed by her 
to Miss Nightingale. 

Next to the letters and other papers, above described, 
the most valuable material for the Life of Miss Nightingale 
is contained in her own printed writings — many of them 
published, some (and these, from the biographical point of 
view, the most important) privately printed. In the case 
of the Crimean War, material under both of these heads is 
particularly abundant. Her published Notes on Hospitals 
and Notes on Nursing and other works relating to those 
subjects, together with her privately circulated Addresses 
to Probationers, supplement her private records. For her 
inner life, her privately printed book, Suggestions for Thought, 
is of special importance. 

A List of Miss Nightingale's Printed Writings (whether 
published or privately circulated) is given at the end of the 
second volume {Appendix A). My purpose in compiling 
this List was biographical illustration, not bibliographical 
minuteness. I have not included every scrap from Miss 
Nightingale's pen which has appeared in print, but have 
given every piece which is directly or indirectly referred to 
in the Memoir, or which is of any importance. The List 
will, I hope, serve a double purpose. It enables me to 
abbreviate in the text the references to my authorities ; and 
it provides, in chronological order, a conspectus of Miss 
Nightingale's varied activities, so far as they were reflected 
in her printed writings. 

Lastly, there is much biographical material, not only 
in Blue-books and official reports, but in writings about 
Miss Nightingale. Except in the case of the Crimean War, 


where many eye-witnesses recorded their observations or 
impressions, this material is not all of great value. Through- 
out her subsequent life, Miss Nightingale was screened from 
the public gaze ; a somewhat legendary figure grew up, and 
it is that which for the most part appears in books about her 
This, however, is a subject fully dealt with in an Introductory 
chapter. In Appendix B I give a short List of Writings 
about Miss Nightingale. Here, again, the purpose is not 
bibliographical. There is a great mass of such writing, and 
a complete list would have been altogether outside the scope 
of a biography. I have included only first-hand authorities 
or such other books, etc., as for one reason or another 
(explained in the notes upon each item) seemed relevant 
to the Memoir. This second List also serves the purpose 
of simplifying references in the text. 

In a third Appendix (C) I have enumerated the principal 
portraits of Miss Nightingale. Notes on those reproduced 
in this book will there be found. I am indebted to the 
kindness of Sir William Richmond and Sir Harry Verney 
for the inclusion of the portrait which forms the frontis- 
piece to the second volume, and to Mrs. Cunliffe for the 
frontispiece to the present volume. 

To Miss Nightingale's executors I am indebted for the 
confidence which they have shown in entrusting her Papers 
to my discretion. A biography is worth nothing unless 
it is sincere. The aim of the present book has been to 
tell the truth about the subject of it, and I have done my 
work under no conscious temptation to suppress, exag- 
gerate, extenuate, or distort. From Miss Nightingale's 
executors, and from other of her friends and relations, I 
have received help and information which has been of the 
greatest assistance. More especially I am indebted to her 
cousin, Mrs. Vaughan Nash, who has been good enough to 
read my book, both in manuscript and in proof, and who 
has favoured me throughout with valuable information, 
corrections, suggestions, and criticisms. This obligation 
makes it the more incumbent upon me to add that for 
any faults in the book, whether of commission or of omis- 
sion, I alone must bear the blame. 



Introductory ........ xxiii 


ASPIRATION (1820-1854) 



Name, ancestry, and parentage. II. Her father's circum- 
stances — Her early homes — Lea Hurst (Derbyshire) — Mrs. 
Gaskell's description — Embley Park (Hampshire). III. 
Early years — Country Ufe — Domestic interests — A morbid 
strain. IV. Mr. Nightingale's education of his daughters — 
History, the classics, pliilosophy — Anecdotes of Florence's sup- 
posed early vocation to nursing — The date of her " call to God " 
(1837). V. The Grand Tour (1837-9) — Interest in social 
and poUtical conditions — ItaUan refugees at Geneva — Talks 
with Sismondi — Visit to Florence — Gaieties and music. VI. 
A winter in Paris (1838-9) — Friendship with Mary Clarke 
(Madame Mohl) — Madame Recamier's salon. Social " tempta- 
tions " . . . . . . . . • 3 



A struggle for freedom. Life in London — Music — The Bed- 
chamber Plot. II. Country-house hfe — The charm of Embley 
— Contrast between Florence and her sister. III. The family 
circle — Florence's " boy " — Florence as " Emergency Man " 
— Her old nurse — Letter to Miss Clarke on the death of 
M. Fauriel — Theatricals at Waverley Abbey — Florence as 
stage-manager. IV. Friends and neighbours — Lord Palmer- 
ston — Louisa Lady Ashburton — Mrs. Bracebridge. V. 
Florence's conversation — Social attractiveness — Personal 



appearance : descriptions by Lady Lovelace and Mrs. Gaskell. 

VI. Dissatisfaction in social life — Desultoriness of a girl's life 
at home — The misery of being read aloud to — Housekeeping. 

VII. Increasing sense of a vocation — Private studies — 
Thoughts of nursing — A first dash for hberty (1845) : failure . 23 



Dejection. Friendship with Miss Nicholson: religious experi- 
ences and speculations — Letters to Miss Nicholson and Miss 
Clarke. II. The reality of the unseen world — The conviction 
of sin — The pains of hell — Hunger after righteousness — " All 
for the Love of God." III. Independent development of Miss 
Nightingale's reUgious thought — The service of God as the 
service of man — Her testing of religious doctrine by practical 
results — Her attitude to Roman Catholicism — Desire for a 
church of works, not doctrines ..... 46 




Disappointment's dry and bitter root." Pursuit of her ideal — 
Obstacles to her adoption of nursing — Social prejudices — Low 
esteem of nurses at the time — The Kaiserswerth " Institution 
for Deaconesses." II. Increasing distaste for the routine of 
home life. III. Social distractions (1847) — Jenny Lind — The 
British Association at Oxford — Marriage of Miss Clarke — 
Country visits ....... 59 




A tour that confirmed a vocation. Sight-seeing in Rome — Ad- 
miration for Michael Angelo — The revelation of the Sistine 
Chapel — The obsession of Rome. II. Itahan pohtics — Pio 
Nono as Patriot Hero. III. The convent of the Trinita de' 
Monti — Study of Roman doctrine and ritual — Friendship with 
theMadre Sta. Colomba — A retreat in the convent — The 
secret of devotion. IV. Meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Sidney 
Herbert and with Manning — The London season — Friendship 
with Lord Shaftesbury — Self-reproaches. V. A projected visit 
to Kaiserswerth (1848) : disappointment again — Acquaintance 
with Guizot — Ragged school work in London ... 69 





Another fruitless distraction. A winter in Egypt — Thebes — 
Condition of the people — Impressions of Egyptian scenery. II. 
Athens — Doric architecture — Greek scenery. III. Political 
affairs — The " Don Pacifico " crisis — The Ionian Islands : a 
day with the High Commissioner. IV. American missionaries 
at Athens — Dresden — Visit to Kaiserswerth. V. The literary 
" temptation " — Her view of literary art — Her Letters from 
Egypt 84 



The three paths. Why Florence Nightingale did not marry — 
Her criticism of Dorothea in Middlemarch. II. Offers of 
marriage — Her ideal of marriage — The threefold nature. III. 
Self-devotion to her vocation — Determination to throw open 
new spheres for women ...... 96 



The struggle for independence resumed. Want of sympathy be- 
tween her and her parents and sister — Unhappiness at home — 
A " starved " hfe. II. Growing spirit of revolt — The need of 
apprenticeship. III. Second visit to Kaiserswerth — Origin of 
the Institution — Account of its work — Her life there. IV. 
Craving for sympathy from her relations — Their hope that the 
apprenticeship would be only an episode . . .104 



The turning-point. Patience and serenity : waiting for an oppor- 
tunity. II. With her father at Umberslade — The water cure — 
Death of her Aunt Evans — Meeting with George Ehot and Mrs. 
Browning — Visits to Dubhn and to Birk Hall (Sir James 
Clark). III. Literary " Works " — Converse with her " Aunt 
Mai " — A new rehgion for the artizans. IV. A little piece of 
diplomacy— Florence to be free at some future specified time. 
V. A last attempt to keep her at home . . . .116 



(1853-OcTOBER 1854) 


Visit to Paris — Study in the hospitals — Return to England: 
death of her grandmother. II. Miss Nightingale invited to 
take charge of an institution in Harley Street. III. Return to 
Paris — Study with the Sisters of Charity — Illness. IV. Super- 
intendent of the Harley Street " Hospital for Gentlewomen " — 
The gentle art of managing committees — Her vocation found — 
A last attempt to call her back. V. A holiday at Lea Hurst — 
Visit from Mrs. GaskeU — Outbreak of cholera : return to 
London. VI. Limited scope at Harley Street — Proposal to 
Miss Nightingale to become matron at King's College Hospital — 
Lady Lovelace's prophecy . . . . . .127 

THE CRIMEAN WAR (1854-1856) 



(October 1854) 

The Battle of the Alma — The Times special correspondent — 
State of the hospitals at Scutari — Popular indignation — An 
appeal for nurses. II. Answer to the appeal — Lady Maria 
Forester and Miss Nightingale — Sidney Herbert and Miss 
Nightingale. III. Letters that crossed — Miss Nightingale's 
offer : Sidney Herbert's suggestion — Miss Nightingale's 
of&cial instructions. IV. Co-operation of the Times Fund 
— Selection of nurses for the expedition. V. Miss Nightingale's 
demeanour — A pocket-book and some letters . . . 145 



Start of the expedition — Failure to obtain Sisters of Charity in 
Paris — Reception of the expedition in France — Departure from 
Marseilles. II. Popular enthusiasm in England — Account of 
Miss Nightingale in the newspapers — Public subscriptions — 
Other nurses volunteering. III. Miss Nightingale's plans — 
Importance of her experiment — Difficulties ahead — Military 
prejudice: Sir Anthony Sterling's letters — Medical jealousy: 
Sir John Hall's letters — Rehgious rivalries — Miss Nightingale's 
policy . . . . . . . . .162 





Arrival at the Golden Horn. The Scutari hospitals — The 
General Hospital — The Barrack Hospital: quarters of Miss 
Nightingale and her staff — The Palace Hospital — The Koulali 
Hospitals. II. State of the hospitals when Miss Nightingale 
arrived — Report of the Roebuck Committee — Terrible 
death-rate — The root of the evil : division of responsibiUty — 
Need of individual initiative . . . . .171 


THE expert's touch 

The Battle of Balaclava. Miss Nightingale's reception at Scutari : 
letter from Lord Raglan — Difficulties with the doctors — 
Miss Nightingale at work in the wards — Difficulties with the 
nurses. II. Dispatch of a second party of nurses under Miss 
Stanley, accompanied by Mr. Jocelyne Percy — Miss Nightin- 
gale's indignant surprise — Mr. Herbert's promise not to send out 
more nurses except at her requisition — Danger of ruining the 
experiment — Medical opposition — Aggravation of the religious 
difficulty — Arrangements for placing the Stanley party — 
Significance of the episode in relation to the novelty of the 
experiment. III. Deficiency of requisites in the hospitals — 
Miss Nightingale's appeal to the British Ambassador — Her 
washing reforms — Her "Extra Diet" Kitchens — Alexis Soyer 
— Sorry phght of the camp-followers — Establishment of a 
lying-in hospital — Dr. Andrew Smith and the female eye . i8i 



Miss Nightingale's varied functions. Purveyor-Auxiliary to the 
hospitals — Ignorance of the Ambassador as to the true state of 
things — Deficiencies in the stores — Miss Nightingale's cara- 
vanserai in " The Sisters' Tower " — Her supphes issued only on 
medical requisition — Delays in obtaining access to Government 
stores — Miss Nightingale's resourcefulness in obtaining supplies 
— Her gifts to the French and Sardinian hospitals — Absurdities 
of the purveying regulations. II. Clothier to the wounded — 
Cause of the deficiency of shirts : 50,000 issued from Miss 
Nightingale's stores. III. Builder — Miss Nightingale's pre- 
paration of new wards for additional patients from the Crimea. 
IV. Her shouldering of responsibihty — Strictness of her admini- 
stration — Almoner of the Queen's " Free Gifts " — Rules and ex- 
ceptions — Value of her initiative — Sidney Herbert's approval — 
Mr. Kinglake and " the woman's touch "... 199 





Miss Nightingale as an inspirer of reform — Sources of her in- 
fluence — Favour of the Court — Letter from Queen Victoria : 
her gifts to the soldiers. II. Miss Nightingale's reports to 
Sidney Herbert — Character of her letters. III. Her urgent 
appeals for stores — Dispatch of an executive Sanitary Commis- 
sion — Miss Nightingale's reforms in the handling of Govern- 
ment stores — Other reforms due to her. IV. Her suggestion for 
systematic reorganization — Suggested improvements in the 
medical service. V. Miss Nightingale's demeanour at Scutari — 
Description by S. G. O. — Range of her influence — The efficacy 
of " going to Miss Nightingale " . . . . .213 



Dual position of Miss Nightingale: administrator and nurse. 
Prodigious power of work — Her attention to the sick and 
wounded — Her midnight vigils — The famous lamp — The 
soldiers kissing her shadow — Idolization by the men. II. Corre- 
spondence with relatives and friends of the wounded soldiers. 
III. Strain upon Miss Nightingale's powers — Burden of corre- 
spondence — Her helpers — Mr. and Mrs. Bracebridge. IV. 
Schemes for helping the soldiers — Mr. Augustus Stafford — The 
Orderlies and Miss Nightingale ..... 233 



Nature of the religious difficulty. Rivalry between the churches 
— Various claims for " representation " among the nursing 
staff — " Anti-Puseyite " attacks. II. Miss Nightingale's atti- 
tude in the squabble. III. The difficulty increased by the 
advent of Miss Stanley's party — Charges of proselytism — Lord 
Panmure's instructions misinterpreted. IV. Aggravation by 
the religious feuds of the difficulty of obtaining efficient nurses — 
Worry caused to Miss Nightingale . . . .244 



(May-August 1855) 

Siege of Sebastopol. The hospitals in the Crimea — Miss Night- 
ingale's authority there not explicitly defined — Her arrival at 
Balaclava. II. Visit to the front— Sir John McNeill. III. Work 
jij the hospitals — Attacked by " Crimean fever " — Anxiety 



in England and in the hospitals — Visit from Lord Raglan. 
IV. IVIiss Nightingale advised to return to England — Her refusal 
— Return to Scutari — Gradual recovery — " The heroic dead " . 254 



Sympathy in England caused by Miss Nightingale's illness. The 
popular heroine: letters from Lady Verney. II. The poetry 
of Seven Dials, verses, songs, lives, portraits, etc. — Miss Night- 
ingale's view of it all. III. Public memorial to her — The 
Nightingale Fund — Speeches at the public meeting — Nature of 
the memorial — Subscriptions from the army — Medical jealousy 
— Presentation of a jewel by the Queen .... 264 


THE soldiers' FRIEND 

Miss Nightingale's ministrations to the moral welfare of the 
soldiers — Her behef in the possibility of reforms. II. Her letter 
to the Queen on drunkenness in the army : considered by the 
Cabinet — Miss Nightingale's Money Order Office at Scutari — 
Government offices opened — The " Inkerman Cafe " — Sir 
Henry Storks — Miss Nightingale's influence with the soldiers. 

III. Establishment of reading-rooms and class-rooms . . 276 



(September 1855-JULY 1856) 

Fall of Sebastopol: Miss Nightingale's second and third visits to 
the Crimea. Hardships of her work in the Crimea — Her 
" carriage " — The hospital huts on the heights above Balaclava 
— Her Extra Diet Kitchens. II. Opposition to her in miUtary 
and medical quarters — Sir John Hall's opposition — Difficulties 
with the nuns — Miss Nightingale's authority disputed. III. 
Her appeals to home for support — Correspondence with Sidney 
Herbert — Dispatch from the Secretary of State defining her full 
authority in the Crimea promulgated in General Orders — Ex- 
hausting labours in the Crimea : testamentary dispositions. 

IV. Hard work at Scutari — Letters from the aunt who was with 
Miss Nightingale — Christmas Day at the British Embassy — 
Colonel Lefroy . . , . . . .283 



(July-August 1856) 

The Peace. Return of the nurses — Miss Nightingale's tribute to 
her " mainstays." II. The Government's thanks to Miss 
Nightingale — Gratitude of the soldiers — Offer of a man-of-war 



for her return — Lord EUesmere's speech in the House of Lords. 
III. Return of Miss Nightingale — Pubhcity avoided — Her 
" spoils of war." IV. Her Crimean work a starting-point . 299 





(August-November 1856) 

" Muddling through a war": the favourable moment for reform. 
Advantage taken of the opportunity after the Crimean War for 
the better sanitation of the British Army — Co-operation of 
Sidney Herbert and Miss Nightingale. II. Her passionate desire 
to lessen preventable mortality in the future — Examination of 
the figures of mortality in the army during peace — Her admira- 
tion of the heroism of the British soldier — Her opportunity and 
sense of responsibihty. III. A short hoUday at Lea Hurst — 
Acquaintance with Mr. Kinglake — Invitation from Sir James 
Clark to Ballater — A visit from Queen Victoria Ukely — Miss 
Nightingale's preparations : consultation with Sir John 
McNeill and Colonel Lefroy — Miss Nightingale's plan of cam- 
paign. IV. First visit to Balmoral — Visit from the Queen at Sir 
J. Clark's — Conversations with the Queen and the Prince Consort 
— Miss Nightingale requested to remain to see the Secretary for ^>^ 

War. V. Awaiting Lord Panmure — Advice from Sir J. ^ 

McNeill — "Command visit" to Balmoral — Conversations with 
Lord Panmure — Appointment of a Royal Commission promised 
— Estabhshment of an Army Medical School favoured — Miss 
Nightingale to report on her experiences. VI. Conferences of 
Miss Nightingale's " Cabinet " — Provisional selection of Royal 
Commissioners: draft of their instructions — Interview with 
Lord Panmure in London: points won and lost — The per- 
sonnel of the Commission . . . . .311 



(November 1856-AuGUST 1857) 

Power of departmental passive resistance: delay in setting up the 
Commission. Lord Panmure's gout — "The Bison is bully- 
able" — Miss Nightingale's weapon in reserve: her potential 
command of the pubhc ear. II. The " Chelsea Board " : the 
McNeill-Tulloch affaire — Parhamentary pressure on the Govern- 
ment, III. Miss Nightingale's friendship with Lord Stanley — 



Miss Nightingale and the China expedition — The Netley 
Hospital — Her negotiations with Lord Panmure — Visit to Lord 
Palmerston — Her " fight for the pavilion." IV. Her prepara- 
tion for the Royal Commission by writing her own of&cial Report 
— Lord Panmure's instructions — This Report, the most remark- 
able of her works — Account of it. V. The experts and Miss 
Nightingale — Her inspection of hospitals and barracks — Visit 
to Chatham — Reform at Chelsea — Miss Nightingale and Robert 
Lowe — The proposed Army Medical School — Her suggestions of 
soldiers' reading-rooms. VI. The Royal Commission set up — 
Interview with Lord Panmure — Her revision of the instructions 
— Mr. Herbert's industry as chairman — Miss Nightingale's 
assistance — Dr. Sutherland — Her interviews with witnesses, sug- 
gestions for their examination — Her own evidence. VII. Re- 
port of the Commission— Its salient feature, the high rate of 
mortality in the barracks — Mr. Herbert and Miss Nightingale 
resolved on securing prompt reforms .... 334 



(August-December 1857) 

Frequent futility of Royal Commissions. Mr. Herbert's and Miss 
Nightingale's plans for averting the danger — Proposed series of 
Sub-Commissions to settle the details of reform — Lord Panmure 
off to Scotland — -Departmental objections — Delay in appointing 
the Sub-Commissions — Miss Nightingale's labours. II. Over- 
work — Dr. Sutherland's expostulations— Her refusal to rest. 
III. The Indian Mutiny — Miss Nightingale's offer to go out. 
Her life at this period — Miss Nightingale's daily work with 
her alhes — Ill-health — Testamentary dispositions . . 362 




Fruits of Miss Nightingale's labours. Pubhcation of the Report 
of the Royal Commission — Her measures for calhng attention 
to the rate of mortahty ; for securing reviews of the Report. 
II. Resignation of Lord Palmerston's Government — General 
Peel, the new Secretary for War — Miss Nightingale's anxiety 
about a new director-general of the Army Medical Department 
— Disappointed with General Peel — Miss Nightingale's ill- 
health — Her sister's marriage — Mr. Herbert overworked. III. 
Work of the Barracks and Hospitals Commission : Miss Night- 
ingale and the kitchens — Work with Mr. Herbert and Dr. 
Sutherland in connection with other Sub -Commissions — 
Netley Hospital again — Miss Nightingale's papers on Hospital 
Construction (1858). IV. Private circulation of her Report to 

VOL. I b 



Lord Panmure — Miss Nightingale and the Duke of Cambridge — 
Harriet Martineau's co-operation with Miss Nightingale — Her 
Contribution to the Sanitary History of the British Army (1859). 
V. Resignation of Lord Derby's Government — Mr. Herbert, 
Secretary for War — Reforms in the barracks — Appointment of a 
permanent Barracks Works Committee (afterwards called Army 
Sanitary Committee) — School of cookery — Improved Army 
Medical Statistics — Establishment of an Army Medical School : 
Miss Nightingale as its founder: the present college — Other 
reforms due to her. VI. Results of Mr. Herbert's reforms — 
Miss Nightingale's tribute to him — Their co-operation . . 375 




Break -down of Mr. Herbert's health. His interview with Miss 
Nightingale (December i860) : decision to give up the House of 
Commons — Created Lord Herbert of Lea — Her insistence that 
he should reform the War Ofi&ce — His abandonment of the 
attempt — Establishment of the General Military Hospital 
at Woolwich — Introduction of female nursing — His last letter 
to Miss Nightingale — His death (August 2) — " Our joint-work 
unfinished." II. Miss Nightingale's grief — Obituary notices of 
him — Mr. Gladstone's interview with her — Her memorandum 
on Lord Herbert's reforms — Her endeavour to interest Mr. 
Gladstone in their completion — His reply — Public meeting to 
promote a Herbert Memorial. III. The friendship between 
Sidney Herbert and Miss Nightingale . . . .401 






Miss Nightingale's work with Sidney Herbert carried on at the 
same time with other work. Her place as a Sanitarian — Her 
prestige as an authority on hospitals — Her Notes on Hospitals — 
General condition of hospitals at the time — Influence of her book 
— Miss Nightingale widely consulted on the construction of 
hospitals, at home and abroad. II. The Manchester Royal 
Infirmary, and Mr. Joseph Adshead — St. Thomas's Hospital, 
London: the battle of the sites — Miss Nightingale and the 
Prince Consort . . . . . . .415 





Statistics as a passion. Miss Nightingale's study of the works of 
Quetelet — Careless statistical records in the Crimean War — Her 
model Hospital Statistical Forms — Advantage to be derived 
from such data — International Statistical Congress in 
London (i860) — Miss Nightingale's alliance with Dr. Farr — 
Adoption of her Forms — Her reception of the delegates — 
Circulation of her paper — Partial adoption of her scheme by 
London and other hospitals. IL Her advocacy of the better 
utilization of Government statistics — Her efforts to extend the 
scope of the Census of 1861 — Correspondence with Mr. Lowe 
and Sir George Lewis — An appeal to the Lords . . . 428 




Three great contributions of the 19th century to the relief of human 
suffering in disease. Miss Nightingale's place in the history 
of nursing — The founder not of nursing, but of modern nursing — 
Her peculiar fitness for directing tendencies of the time towards 
improved nursing. II. Condition of nursing at the time — Miss 
Nightingale's influence in raising it from a menial occupation to 
a trained profession. IIL Force of her example — Enthusiasm 
excited by her among women. IV. Force of her precept — 
Notes on Nursing (1859-60) — The text -book of the New 
Model in Nursing — Popularity of the book — Reminiscences of 
the Crimea in it — " Minding Baby." V. Some characteristics 
of the book — General grasp of principles, combined with minute- 
nefs of detail — Delicacy of observation, and fineness of sym- 
pathy — Epigrammatic expression. VI. Importance of training 
in the art of nursing — The Notes as a prelude to practice. . 439 




Importance of the Nightingale Training School — Early history of 
the " Nightingale Fund " — Accumulation of the money during 
Miss Nightingale's absorption in other work — Appointment of 
a working committee (1859) — Decision to found a Training 
School in connexion with St. Thomas's Hospital — Character of 
Mrs. Wardroper, matron of the hospital. II. Essential prin- 
ciples of Miss Nightingale's scheme : (i) technical, a Training 
School ; lectures, examinations, reports, etc. ; (2) moral, a home. 
III. Miss Nightingale's supervision — Favourable start of the 



school. IV. Further application of the Nightingale Fund to 
the training of midwives. V. Wide influence of the Night- 
ingale School — Novelty of the experiment — Medical opposition 
at the start — From paradox to commonplace . . . 456 




The reUgious sanction behind Miss Nightingale's hfe of work — 
Resumption of her theological speculations — Printing of her 
Suggestions for Thought — General character of the book. II. 
Miss Nightingale and John Stuart Mill — Her introduction to 
Benjamin Jowett — The book submitted to them — Mill's 
advice that it should be published, Jowett's that it should not — 
Literary imperfections — Her impatience of hterary revision. 
III. Scope of the book — Vehemence of style — Explanation of 
Mill's and Jowett's contrary advice. IV. Origin of the book — 
Sketch of her theological system — Thoughts on Prayer — God 
as Law — Influence of Quetelet — Doctrine of human perfecti- 
bility as explaining the existence of evil — Freewill and 
Necessity — BeUef in a future life — The philosophy of history — 
Motive for human conduct. V. Miss Nightingale's attitude 
to current creeds, Protestant and Catholic. VI. Spiritual 
intensity with which she held her creed .... 468 




Continued ill-health — Serious illness and expectation of early 
death — Yet constant work — Doctor's opinions — Necessity for 
husbanding her strength. II. Consequent manner of Ufe — A 
laborious hermit — Help from her friends — A. H. Clough — 
Her uncle, Mr. S. Smith, and her private correspondence. 
III. Her places of residence — Highgate and Hampstead — The 
Burhngton Hotel in London — The Queen's ofier of rooms in 
Kensington Palace: why dechned — Her cats. IV. Reading 
and music — Her Itahan sympathies. V. Seclusion from 
visitors, friends and relations — Miss Nightingale and her 
father. VI. Correspondence with her friends — Associations of 
the Burhngton Hotel . . . . . .491 



Mrs. Nightingale and her two Daughters : 1828. {From 
a water-colour drawing in possession of Mrs. Cunliffe) 


Florence Nightingale about 1845. {From a pencil 
drawing by her cousin, Miss Hilary Bonham Carter, 
in possession of Miss B. A. dough) ... 38 

Florence Nightingale : about 1858. {From a photograph 

by Goodman) ....... 394 


Among Miss Nightingale's memoranda on books and reading, 
there is this injunction : " The preface of a book ought to 
set forth the importance of what it is going to treat of, so 
that the reader may understand what he is reading for." 
The saying is typical of the methodical and positive spirit 
which, as we shall learn, was one of the dominant strains in 
Miss Nightingale's work and character. She wanted to 
know at every stage precisely what a person, or a book, or an 
institution was driving at. "Of all human sounds," she 
said, " I think the words I don't know are the saddest." 
Unless a book had something of definite importance to say, it 
had better, she thought, not be written ; and in order to save 
the reader's time and fix his attention, he should be told at 
once wherein the significance of the book consists. This, 
though it may be a hard saying, is perhaps not unwholesome 
even to biographers. At any rate, as Miss Nightingale's 
biographer, I am moved to obey her injunction. I propose, 
therefore, in this Introductory chapter to state wherein, as I 
conceive, the significance and importance of Miss Nightin- 
gale's life consists, and what the work was that she did in 
the world. 

" In the course of a life's experience such as scarcely 
any one has ever had, I have always found," said Miss 
Nightingale,^ " that no one ever deserves his or her character. 
Be it better or worse than the real one, it is always unlike the 
real one." Of no one is this saying more true than of herself. 
" It has been your fate," said Mr. Jowett to her once, " to 

^ In a letter to Madame Mohl, December 13, 1871. 


become a Legend in your lifetime." Now, nothing is more 
persistent than a legend ; and the legend of Florence 
Nightingale became fixed early in her life — at a time, indeed, 
antecedent to that at which her best work in the world, as 
she thought, had begun. The popular imagination of Miss 
Nightingale is of a girl of high degree who, moved by a wave 
of pity, forsook the pleasures of fashionable life for the horrors 
of the Crimean War ; who went about the hospitals of 
Scutari with a lamp, scattering flowers of comfort and 
ministration ; who retired at the close of the war into private 
life, and lived thenceforth in the seclusion of an invalid's 
room — a seclusion varied only by good deeds to hospitals 
and nurses and by gracious and sentimental pieties. I do 
not mean, of course, that this was all that anybody knew or 
wrote about her. Any such suggestion would be far from the 
truth. But the popular idea of Florence Nightingale's life 
has been based on some such lines as I have indicated, and 
the general conception of her character is to this day founded 
upon them. The legend was fixed by Longfellow's poem and 
Miss Yonge's Golden Deeds. Its growth was favoured by the 
fact of Miss Nightingale's seclusion, by the hidden, almost 
the secretive, manner in which she worked, by her shrinking 
from publicity, by her extreme reticence about herself. It 
is only now, when her Papers are accessible, that her real life 
can be known. There are some elements of truth in the 
popular legend, but it is so remote from the whole truth as 
to convey in general impression everything but the truth. 
The real Florence Nightingale was very different from the 
legendary, but also greater. Her life was built on larger 
lines, her work had more importance, than belong to the 

The Crimean War was not the first thing, and still less was 
it the last, that is significant in Miss Nightingale's hfe. The 
story of her earlier years is that of the building up of a char- 
acter. It shows us a girl of high natural ability and of 
considerable attractions feeling her way to an ideal alike 
in practice and in speculation. Having found it, she was 
thrown into revolt against the environment of her home. We 
shall see her pursuing her ideal with consistent, though with 
self-torturing, tenacity against alike the obstacles and the 


temptations of circumstance. She had aheady served an 
apprenticeship when the call to the Crimea came. It was a 
call not to " sacrifice," but to the fulfilment of her dearest 
wishes for a life of active usefulness. Such is the theme of the 
First Part, which I have called " Aspiration." 

Many other women have passed through similar experi- 
ences. But there is special significance in them in the case 
of Florence Nightingale — a significance both historic and 
personal. The glamour that surrounded her service in the 
Crimea, the wide-world publicity that was given to her name 
and deeds, invested with peculiar importance her fight for 
freedom. To do " as Florence Nightingale did " became an 
object of imitation which the well-to-do world was hence- 
forth readier to condone, or even to approve ; and thus the 
story of Miss Nightingale's earlier years is the history of a 
pioneer, on one side, in the emancipation of women. 

For the understanding of her own later life, the earlier 
years are all-important. They give the clue to her character, 
and explain much that would otherwise be puzzling or con- 
fused. Through great difficulties and at a heavy price 
she had purchased her birthright — her ideal of self- 
expression in work. On her return from the Crimea she was 
placed, on the one hand, owing to her fame, in a position of 
special opportunity ; on the other hand, owing to illness, in a 
position of special disability. She shaped her life hence- 
forward so as to make these two factors conform to the con- 
tinued fulfilment of her ideal. I need not here forestall 
what subsequent chapters will abundantly illustrate. I will 
only say that the resultant effect was a manner of life and 
work, both extraordinary, and, to me at least, of the greatest 

The Second Part of the Memoir is devoted to the Crimean 
War. The popular conception with regard to Miss Nightin- 
gale's work during this episode in her life is not untrue so far 
as it goes, but it is amazingly short of the whole truth as 
now ascertainable from her Papers. The popular imagina- 
tion pictures Florence Nightingale at Scutari and in the 
Crimea as " the ministering angel." And such in very truth 


she was. But the deeper significance of her work in the 
Crimean War Hes elsewhere. It was as Administrator and 
Reformer, more than as Angel, that she showed her peculiar 
powers. Queen Victoria, with native shrewdness and a 
touch of humour, hit off the truth about Miss Nightingale's 
services in the Crimea in concise words : " Such a clear head, 
I wish we had her at the War Office." 

The influence of Miss Nightingale's service in the Crimea 
was great. Some of it is obvious, and on the moral side 
Longfellow's poem said the first, and the last, word. She 
may also be accounted, if not the founder, yet the promoter of 
Female Nursing in war, and the Red Cross Societies through- 
out the world are, as we shall hear, the direct outcome of her 
labours in the Crimea, The indirect, and less obvious, 
results were in many spheres. From a sick-room in the West 
End of London Miss Nightingale played a part — and a much 
larger part than could be known without access to her Papers 
— in reforming the sanitary administration of the British 
army, in reconstructing hospitals throughout the world, in 
founding the modern art of nursing, in setting up a sanitary 
administration in India, and in promoting various other 
reforms in that country 

Miss Nightingale's return from the Crimea, it will thus be 
seen, was not the end of her active life. In a sense it was the 
beginning. The nursing at Scutari and in the Crimea was an 
episode. The fame which she shunned, but which neverthe- 
less came to her, gave her a starting-point for doing work 
which was destined, as she hoped, and as in large measure 
was granted, to be of permanent service to her country 
and the world. The first chapter of the Third Part shows 
her laying her plans for the health of the British soldier, 
and the subsequent chapters tell what followed. This 
is the period of Miss Nightingale's close co-operation with 
Sidney Herbert. To the writer this later phase of Miss 
Nightingale's life — with its ingenious adjustment of means 
to ends, its masterful resourcefulness, its incessant industry, 
and then with its perpetual struggle against physical weak- 
ness and its extraordinary power of devoted concentration — 
has seemed not less interesting than the Crimean episode. 


The Fourth Part describes, as its main themes, the work 
which Miss Nightingale did, concurrently with that described 
in the preceding Part, as Hospital Reformer and the Founder 
of Modern Nursing. Other chapters introduce two topics 
which might at first sight seem widely separate, but which 
were yet closely associated in Miss Nightingale's mind. They 
deal with her, respectively, as a Passionate Statistician and 
as a Religious Thinker. The nature of her speculations is 
fully explained in the latter chapters, and elsewhere in the 
memoir. It will be seen that Miss Nightingale had thought 
out a scheme of religious belief which widely differed from 
the creeds of Christian orthodoxy, whether Catholic or 
Protestant, but which yet admitted of accommodation to 
much of their language and formularies. It admitted also, 
as will appear in due course, of close alliance with mysticism. 
Miss Nightingale believed intensely in a Personal God and in 
personal religion. The language which expressed most 
adequately to her the sense of union with God was the 
language of the Greek and Christian mystics. But " law " 
was to her " the thought of God " ; union with God meant 
co-operation with Him towards human perfectibility ; and 
for the discovery of " the thought of God " statistics were to 
her mind an indispensable means. 

In the Fifth Part we are introduced to a new interest in 
Miss Nightingale's life, a new sphere of her work. For forty 
years she worked at Indian questions. She took up the 
subject at first through interest in the army. It was a 
natural supplement to her efforts for the health of the British 
soldier at home, to make a like attempt on behalf of the army 
in India. Gradually she was drawn into other questions, 
and she became a keen Indian reformer all along the line. 
Her assiduity, her persistence, her ingenuity were as marked 
in this sphere as in others ; it was only her immediate success 
that was less. 

In relation to the primary object with which she began 
her Indian campaigns. Miss Nightingale's life and work have 
great importance. The Royal Commission of 1859-63, which 
was due to her, and the measures taken in consequence of 
its Report, were the starting-point of a new era in sanitary 


improvement for the army. The results have been most 
salutary. Miss Nightingale's friendship with Lord Stanley 
and with Sir John Lawrence here served her somewhat as 
that with Mr. Herbert served in the earlier campaign. In 
the wider sphere of Indian sanitation generally Miss Nightin- 
gale's efforts were not so successful. The field was perhaps 
too vast, the conditions were too adverse, for any great and 
immediate success to be possible. Yet this and her other 
efforts for India were the part of Miss Nightingale's life and 
work to which she attached most importance, and by the 
record of which she set most store. Even in the Will (after- 
wards revoked) directing her Papers to be destroyed, she 
made exception of those relating to India ; and, as already 
stated in the preface, one of her few pieces of autobiographical 
record related to her Indian work. Perhaps it was the special 
affection which a mother often feels for the least robust or 
least successful child. Perhaps it was that she took long 
views ; and that, foreseeing a future time when many of the 
reforms for which she had toiled might be accomplished, she 
desired to be remembered as a pioneer. " Sanitation," said 
a high authority in 1894, " is the Cinderella of the Indian 
administrative family." ^ The difficulty of finding money 
and a reluctance to introduce Western reforms in advance of 
Eastern opinion are objections with which we shall often 
meet in the correspondence of Indian officials with Miss 
Nightingale, and they are still raised in the present day.^ 
On the other hand, the Under-Secretary for India, in his 
Budget Statement for 1913, declared that " the service which 
has the strongest claim after education on the resources of 
the Government is sanitation," and explained that " the 
Budget estimate of expenditure for sanitation comes this 
year to nearly £2,000,000, showing an increase of 112 per 
cent over the expenditure of three years ago." So perhaps 
Cinderella is to go to the ball ; if ever the glass slipper is 

^ Sir Auckland Colvin in the Journal of the Society of Arts, May 11, 
1894, p. 515. 

^ As, for instance, in some of the speeches in the House of Lords on 
June 9, 1913, and in a leading article in the Times of the following day. 
The speech of Lord Midleton, in introducing the subject, was, on the 
other hand, upon Miss Nightingale's lines, being founded upon the Report 
of her Royal Commission of 1859-63. Some pages (194-197) in Mr. 
George Peel's The Future of England (191 1) are on similar lines. 


found, let it be remembered, as this Memoir will show, that 
Miss Nightingale was the good fairy. 

Her Indian work continued as long as she was able to 
work at all, and from 1862 onwards it forms one of the 
recurring themes in our story. The Sixth Part, while con- 
tinuing that subject, introduces another sphere in which Miss 
Nightingale's life and work have important significance. 
From the reform of Hospital Nursing she turned, in con- 
junction with the late ]\Ir. William Rathbone, to the reform 
of workhouse nursing. And as one thing led to another, it 
will be seen that Miss Nightingale deserves to be remembered 
also as a Poor Law Reformer. 

The Seventh Part comprises the last thirty-eight years of 
Miss Nightingale's life (1872-1910), and a word or two may 
here be said to explain an apparent alteration of scale. In a 
biography the scale must be proportionate not to the number 
of the years, but to their richness in characteristic signifi- 
cance. After 1872, the year in which (as Miss Nightingale 
put it) she went " out of office," her life was less full than 
theretofore in new activities. The germinant seeds had all 
been sown. But these later years, though they have ad- 
mitted of more summary treatment, were full of interest. 
The chapters in which they are recorded deal first with Miss 
Nightingale's literary work, and more especially with her 
studies in Plato and the Christian mystics. These studies 
were in part a result of her close friendship of thirty years 
with Mr. Jowett. Then, too, occasion is found for an 
endeavour to portray Miss Nightingale as the Mother-Chief 
(for so they called her) of the Nurses. It is only by access to 
her enormous correspondence in this sort that the range and 
extent of her personal influence can be measured. Her ideal 
of the nursing vocation stands out very clearly from the 
famous " Nurses' Battle " which occupied much of her later 
years. She found an opportunity during the same period to 
start an important experiment in Rural Hygiene. At the 
same time she was preaching indefatigably the need of 
Health missionaries in Indian villages. And then came the 
end. To the time of labour, there succeeds in every life, 


says Ruskin, " the time of death ; which in happy Hves is 
very short, but always a time." In the case of Miss Nightin- 
gale the time was long. She lived for many years after the 
power to labour was gone. 


So much, by way of preface, in explanation of the 
significance of Miss Nightingale's life and work. But this 
book endeavours to depict a character, as well as to record a 
career. There has been much discussion, in our days as in 
others, of the proper scope and method of biography, and 
various models are held up, in one sense or another, to 
practitioners in this difficult art. The questions are pro- 
pounded, whether biography should describe a person's life 
or his character ? his work or how he did it ? If the 
person did anything worthy of record, a biography should, 
surely, describe alike the life and the character, the work and 
the methods. The biogi-apher may fail in his attempt ; but 
in the case of Miss Nightingale the attempt is peculiarly 
necessary, because all that she did and the manner in which 
she did it were, as it has seemed to me, characteristic of a 
strongly-marked personality behind them. 

This book is, however, a biography and not a history. It 
is not a history of the Crimean War, nor of nursing, nor of 
Indian administration. Something on all these matters will 
be found in it ; but only so much of detail as was necessary 
to place Miss Nightingale's work in its true light and to 
exhibit her characteristic methods. So, also, many other 
persons will pass across the stage — persons drawn from 
a great many different classes, occupations, walks in life ; 
but the book does not aim at giving a detailed picture of 
" Miss Nightingale's circle." Her relations, her friends, 
her acquaintances, her correspondents only concern us here 
in so far as their dealings with her affected her work, or 
illustrate her character. 

Here, again — to revert to what has been said above — 
it will be found, I think, that this book possesses a certain 
significance as correcting, or supplementing, a popular 
legend. A preacher, in an obituary sermon upon Miss 
Nightingale, said that all her work was done " by force of 


simple goodness." Assuredly Miss Nightingale was a good 
woman, and there was also a certain simplicity about her. 
But there was much else. A man of affairs, who in the 
course of a long and varied life had come in contact with 
many of the acutest intellects and greatest administrators of 
the time, said of Miss Nightingale that hers was the clearest 
brain he had ever known in man or woman. Strength of 
head was quite as marked in her as goodness of heart, and 
she had at least as much of adroitness as of simplicity. Her 
character was in fact curiously many-sided. A remarkable 
variety of interests, motives, methods will be found coming 
into play in the course of this record. The Florence Nightin- 
gale who will be shown in it — by her acts, her methods, her 
sayings, her ways of looking at things and people — is a very 
different person from Santa Filomena. Miss Nightingale 
has been given a place among the saints in the popular 
calendars of many nations ; and she deserves the canonisa- 
tion, but not entirely for the popular reasons. Her char- 
acter, as I have endeavoured to depict it, was stronger, more 
spacious, and, as I have felt, more lovable than that of The 
Lady with the Lamp. 




I go to prove my soul ! 
I see my way as birds their trackless way. 
I shall arrive — what time, what circuit first, 
I ask not ; but unless God send his hail 
Or bhnding fire-balls, sleet, or stifling snow, 
In some time, his good time, I shall arrive : 
He guides me and the bird. In his good time. 

Browning : Paracelsus. 





I found her in her chamber reading Phaedon Platonis in Greek, and 
that with as much pleasure as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in 
Bocace. — Roger Ascham. 

To the tender sentiment and popular adoration that gathered 
around the subject of this Memoir, something perhaps was 
added by the beauty of a name which hnked together the 
City of the Flowers and the music of the birds. Her sur- 
name suggested to Longfellow the title of the poem which 
has carried home to the hearts of thousands in two continents 
a lesson of her life. The popularity of " Florence " — in the 
Middle Ages a masculine name — as a Christian name for 
Englisli girls is noted by the historian of that subject as 
due to association with the heroine of the Crimea. 

Both of her names were the result of circumstance. Her 
father came of the old Derbyshire family of Shore of Tapton, 
and changed his name in 1815 from William Edward Shore 
to William Edward Nightingale on succeeding to the pro- 
perty of his mother's uncle, Peter Nightingale of Lea, in 
the same county. Mr. William Nightingale was fond of 
travel, and the close of the French war, shortly before his 
marriage (1818), had thrown the Continent open to the 
grand tour. Mr. and Mrs. Nightingale's only children, two 
daughters, were bom during a sojourn in Italy. The elder 
was born at Naples in 1819, and was named, firstly, Frances, 



after her mother, and, secondly, after the old Greek settle- 
ment on the site of her birthplace, Parthenope. She after- 
wards became the second wife of Sir Harry Verney.^ The 
younger daughter, the subject of this Memoir, was also 
named after her birthplace. She was born at Florence on 
May 12, 1820, in the Villa Colombaia, near the Porta 
Romana, as a memorial-tablet now affixed to the house 
records ; and there on the 4th of July she was baptized 
by Dr. Trevor, Prebendary of Chester. The place-names 
became in familiar intercourse " Parthe " or " Pop," and 
" Flo." 

" The surprises of sainthood," said a speaker at a 
Congress on Eugenics, " are no less remarkable than those 
of genius. St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, and 
Florence Nightingale could no more have been predicted 
from their ancestry than Napoleon, Beethoven, Michael 
Angelo, or Shakespeare." But the peculiarities of tissue on 
which some physical characteristics are held to depend 
can, at any rate, be inherited. Florence Nightingale's 
mother was one of the eleven children of William Smith 
of Parndon Hall, Essex, of whom Sir James Stephen said : 
" When he had nearly completed four score years, he could 
still gratefully acknowledge that he had no remembrance 
of any bodily pain or illness, and that of the very numerous 
family of which he was the head every member still lived 
to support and gladden his old age." This statement is 
not absolutely correct, for one child did not long survive its 
birth ; but of the other sons and daughters of William 
Smith, none died at an earlier age than 69, two lived to be 
more than 75, six to be more than 80, and one to be more 
than 90. This last was Frances, Mrs. Nightingale, who 
lived to be 92. On the father's side there was longevity 
also. Mr. Nightingale himself lived to be 80. His mother 
lived to be 95 ; he had an aunt who lived to be 90 ; and 
" your uncle," wrote his father, " young at 82, enters into 
politics of the present moment with all the ardour of 22." 
Of the children of Mr. and Mrs. WilHam Nightingale, Par- 
thenope lived to be 75, and Florence, though (or, in part, 

^ To avoid confusion, I sometimes refer to her before her marriage as 
" Lady Verney," reserving " Miss Nightingale " throughout for Florence. 


perhaps, because) she Hved for 53 years the Hfe of an invalid, 
attained the age of 90. 

Florence Nightingale, whether saint or not, was certainly 
conscious of a " call " ; but there was nothing in her descent 
or inheritance which encouraged her parents to allow it to 
become readily effectual. Because she was a woman, her 
early life was one long struggle for liberation from circum- 
stance and social prepossessions. Yet there were features 
in her mental equipment and intellectual outlook which may 
well have been inherited, and which certainly owed much 
to environment. Sir James Stephen adds to the remarks 
quoted above that if William Smith " had gone mourning 
all his days, he could scarcely have acquired a more tender 
pity for the miserable, or have laboured more habitually 
for their relief." In politics he was a follower of Fox. He 
was a friend of Wilberforce, with whom he co-operated in 
the House of Commons in the Abolitionist and other humani- 
tarian movements. Of Wilberforce, as of Thomas Clarkson, 
" he possessed the almost brotherly love, and of all their 
fellow-labourers there was none who was more devoted to 
their cause, or whom they more entirely trusted." ^ In 
religion a Unitarian, he was a stout defender of liberty of 
thought and conscience, a persistent opponent of religious 
tests and disabilities. The liberal opinions, alike in Church 
and State, which were thus traditional in the family of 
Florence Nightingale's mother, were shared by that of her 
father. Her grandfather Shore, in a letter to his son in 1818, 
referred to " one of the finest pieces of eloquence either in 
ancient or modern times, given by Sir Samuel RomUly in 
the Court of Chancery on a motion respecting the right of 
Jews to the benefit of a charity in Bedford. It does honour 
to the man and to human nature." Florence Nightingale's 
father was also a Unitarian ; and in politics he was a Whig. 
" How I hate Tories," he wrote to his wife ; and in another 
letter, after the election of 1835, in which the hated ones 
had gained ground, he explained that they were mighty 
only " by Beer, Brandy, and Money." The Whigs, as is 

^ Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography, " The Clapham Sect," pp. 543- 
544 (ed. i860). Miss Nightingale referred to this association of her grand- 
father with Wilberforce and Clarkson in one of her Addresses to Probationers 


well known, were not all lacking in the latter equipment 
for political success, and Mr. Nightingale was a frequent 
subscriber to electoral funds on the Whig side. He was an 
ardent supporter of Parliamentary Reform. He held that 
" Bentham has taught great moral truth more effectually 
than all the Christian divines." At a later time he was a 
follower of Lord Palmerston, of whom he was also a neigh- 
bour in the country. One of the earliest notices which I 
find of Florence Nightingale's interest in politics is in a 
letter from her father describing a meeting at Romsey to 
which he had taken her. " Florence," he says, " approved 
very much Palmerston's exposition of his foreign policy." 

Something else Florence Nightingale owed to, or shared 
with, her father. He, like some other members of his 
family, was of a reflective temperament, interested in 
speculative problems. There is a letter written by him to 
his wife from his father's sick-room (Sept. 1822) which 
shows the bent of his thoughts : — 

I sit by his bedside and look at him as one would at a sleeping 
man, the idea of death only now and then flashing across my 
mind. I have been studying Mad. de Stael on the feeling of 
conviction, which exists more or less in different people and 
different nations, on the subject of soul as independent of external 
ideas. My imagination is a dull one, for it certainly required 
study with me to feel the full force of conviction that soul does 
and must exist quite separately from, though influenced by, 
external circumstances. You will say, I know, with a firm 
belief in Scripture and religion, Leave all philosophical speculation 
to the wild imaginations of the Germans. Nothing can change 
your reliance on religion. The perversity of my nature refers 
me to experience and analogies, though I begin to think that 
the study of the creation displayed before our faculties will 
exalt me into a conception of Divinity completely pervading 
the whole, but particularly that part of man which enables him 
to feel the difference between right and wrong independently 
of the ideas which he derives from external circumstances. 

Florence Nightingale's mother accepted the religious 
standpoint of the day without question. Unitarianism was 
dropped by her and by her elder daughter ; by Florence it 
was, as we shall hear, transcended. The mother's essential 
bent was practical, though the scope of it was somewhat 


limited. The mind of her daughter Florence found room 
in equal measure for practice and for contemplation. She 
inherited her mother's organising capacity, though she 
turned it to directions of her own. It was from her father 
that she inherited the taste for speculative inquiry which 
absorbed a large part of her life. 


From the worldly circumstances of her parents Florence 
came to draw conclusions little sympathetic, in some respects, 
with existing usages and conventions. She accepted, indeed, 
the position of worldly wealth into which she was born with- 
out any fundamental questioning. In later years a young 
friend, on being urged to visit the villagers around one of 
Miss Nightingale's country homes, explained that she did not 
like the relation, she could not bring herself to go from a big 
comfortable house to instruct poor people how to live. Miss 
Nightingale laughed, and said, " You surely don't call Lea 
Hurst a big house." It had only about fifteen bedrooms. 
She took for granted the position into which she was born. 
But she thought that wealth should only be used as a means 
of work. The easy, comfortable, not very strenuous condi- 
tions of her home life as a girl fixed the nature of her earlier 
years, but her soul did not become rooted in them. They 
sowed seeds which grew, as the years passed, not into ac- 
quiescence, but into revolt. Mr. Nightingale had inherited 
his great-uncle's property when nine years old. It accumu- 
lated for him, and a lead mine added greatly to its value. 
By the time of his marriage he was blessed (or, as his younger 
daughter came to think, afflicted) by the possession of a 
considerable fortune. Whether it were indeed a blessing 
or an affliction, it involved him in much uncertainty of mind. 
He and his wife returned from the Continent with their 
infant daughters in 1821, and the question became urgent, 
Where to live ? The landed property which he inherited 
from his great-uncle was a comparatively small estate at 
and around Lea Hall in Derbyshire. To this property he 
added largely. The Hall, the old residence of his great- 
uncle, was discarded (it is now used as a farm-house), and 


Mr. Nightingale built a new house, called Lea Hurst. The 
charm of its situation and prospect is described in a letter by 
Mrs. Gaskell : — 

" High as Lea Hurst is, one seems on a pinnacle, with the 
clouds careering round one. Down below is a garden with 
stone terraces and flights of steps — the planes of these terraces 
being perfectly gorgeous with masses of hollyhocks, dahhas, 
nasturtiums, geraniums, etc. Then a sloping meadow losing 
itself in a steep wooded descent (such tints over the wood !) 
to the river Derwent, the rocks on the other side of which form 
the first distance, and are of a red colour streaked with misty 
purple. Beyond this, interlacing hills, forming three ranges of 
distance ; the first, deep brown with decaying heather ; the 
next, in some purple shadow, and the last catching some pale, 
watery sunlight." " I am left alone." continued Mrs. Gaskell, 
" established high up, in two rooms, opening one out of the other 
— the old nurseries." (The inner one, in which Mrs. Gaskell 
slept, was, when Parthenope grew up, her bedroom.) " It is 
curious how simple it is. The old carpet doesn't cover the 
floor. No easy chair, no sofa, a httle curtainless bed, a small 
glass. In the outer room — the former day nursery — Miss 
Florence's room when she is at home, everything is equally 
simple ; now, of course, the bed is reconverted into a sofa ; two 
small tables, a few bookshelves, a drab carpet only partially 
covering the clean boards, and stone-coloured walls — as cold 
in colouring as need be, but with one low window on one side, 
trellised over with Virginian creeper as gorgeous as can be ; 
and the opposite one, by which I am writing, looking over such 
country ! " ^ 

The sound of the Derwent was often in Florence's ears. 
When she was in the Hospital at Scutari any fretting in the 
Straits recalled it to her. " How I like," she said on a 
stormy night, " to hear that ceaseless roar ; it puts me in 
mind of the dear Derwent ; how often I have listened to it 
from the nursery window." 

Lea Hurst became one of Florence Nightingale's earliest 
homes in England, but it was not the earliest of all. The 
house was not built when the family returned from the 
Continent, and Mr. Nightingale took Kynsham Court, 

^ From a letter to Catherine Winkworth, October 20, 1854, kindly 
communicated by Miss Meta Gaskell. Mrs. Gaskell had gone to stay at 
Lea Hurst with the understanding that she was to have a quiet time for 
writing, remaining in the house as long as she might wish after the family 
had left it. For other passages from the letter, see pp. 39, 41, 139. 


Presteigne, in Herefordshire. The place, it seems, was 
" more picturesque than habitable," and negotiations for 
the purchase of it, with a view to improvements, fell through. 
Mr. Nightingale liked Derbyshire, and was fond of his new 
house ; but the rich, as well as the poor, have their per- 
plexities. " The difficulty is," wrote Mr. Nightingale to his 
wife, " where is the county that is habitable for twelve 
successive months ? " And, again, " How would you like 
Leicestershire ? For my part, I think that, provided I 
could get about 2000 acres and a house in some neighbour- 
ing county where sporting and scenery were in tolerable 
abundance, and the visit to Lea Hurst were annually confined 
to July, August, September, and October, then all would be 
well." While Mrs. Nightingale stayed at Kynsham, or took 
the children for change of air to the seaside or Tunbridge 
Wells, Mr. Nightingale divided his time between the manage- 
ment of his property in Derbyshire and the search for a 
second home elsewhere. Ultimately he found what he 
wanted at Embley Park in the parish of Wellow, near 
Romsey. This estate was bought in 1825, and Kynsham 
was given up. Embley is on the edge of the New Forest, and 
the rich growth of its woods and gardens is much favoured 
by sun and moisture. Old oaks and beeches, thickets of 
flowering laurel and rhododendron, and a profusion of flowers 
and scents, contrast with the bare breezy hills of Derbyshire. 
Its new owners had here the variety they wished for, and a 
full scope for their taste. The most praised of its beauties is 
a long road almost shut in by masses of rhododendron. One 
of the occasional pleasures of Miss Nightingale's later life in 
London was a drive in the Park, in rhododendron- time, " to 
remind her of Embley." 


From her fifth year onwards Florence Nightingale had, 
then, for her homes Lea Hurst in the summer months and 
Embley during the rest of the year. The family usually spent 
a portion of the season in London. The sisters led, it will thus 
be seen, a life mainly in the country, and Florence as a child 
became fond of flowers, birds, and beasts. A neatly printed 
manuscript-book is preserved, in which she made a catalogue 

10 CHILDHOOD pt. i 

of her collection of flowers, describing each with analytical 
accuracy, and noting the particular spot at which it was 
picked. Her childish letters contain many references to 
animal companions. She made particular friends with the 
nuthatch. She had a pet pig, a pet donkey, a pet pony. 
She was fond of riding, and fond of dogs. " A small pet 
animal," she said many years afterwards, " is often an 
excellent companion for the sick, for long chronic cases 
especially." " The more I see of men," wrote a cynic, " the 
more I love dogs." Florence Nightingale, in the same 
piece from which I have just quoted, drew a like moral 
from her experience of some nurses. " An invalid," she 
said, " in giving an account of his nursing by a nurse and 
a dog, infinitely preferred that of the dog. ' Above all,' he 
said, ' it did not talk.' " ^ There were no babies in the 
Nightingale family after the arrival of Florence herself, but 
most of her mother's many brothers and sisters married and 
had families ; and as Mr. and Mrs. Nightingale's houses were 
often visited by these relations, there was seldom wanting 
a succession of babies, and in them and their christenings, 
and teethings, and illnesses, and lessons, Florence took 
that interest which is often strong in little girls. 

Sometimes a baby died, and her letters show that 
Florence was as much interested in a death as in a birth. 
She rejoiced in " the little angels in heaven." One of her 
favourite poems at this period was The Better Land of Mrs. 
Hemans, which she copied out for a cousin as "so very 
beautiful." The earliest letter which I have seen, written 
when she was ten, strikes mingled notes. She is staying 
with Uncle Octavius Smith at " Thames Bank " (a house 
which then adjoined his distillery at Millbank), and writes 
to her sister, who is on a visit with the maid to another set 
of cousins : — 

Give my love to Clemence, and tell her, if you please, that 
I am not in the room where she established me, but in a very 
small one ; instead of the beautiful view of the Thames, a most 
dismal one of the black distillery, and, whenever I open my 
window, the nasty smell rushes in like a torrent. But I like it 
pretty well notwithstanding. There is a hole through the wall 

^ Notes on Nursing, ed. i860, p. 147 n. 


close to my door, wliich communicates with the bath-room, 
which is next the room where Freddy ^ sleeps, and he talks to me 
by there. Tell her also, if you please, that I have washed myself 
all over and feet in warm water since I came every night. I 
went up into the distillery to the very tip-top by ladders with 
Uncle Oc and Fred Saturday night. We walked along a great 
pipe. We have had a good deal of boating which I hke very much. 
We see three steam-boats pass every day, the Diana, the Fly, 

and the Endeavour. My love to all of them except Miss W . 

Give my love particularly to Hilary. Your affecte and only 
sister. Dear Pop, I think of you, pray let us love one another 
more than we have done. Mama wishes it particularly, it is 
the will of God, and it will comfort us in our trials through hfe. 

Was Miss W an unsympathetic governess ? Whoever 

she was, the exception in her disfavour shows an unregenerate 
impulse which contrasts naively with the following good 
resolve towards her sister. To a year earlier belongs a little 
note-book, entitled " Journal of Flo, Embley." It begins 
with the reminder, " The Lord is with thee wherever thou 
art." And then an entry records, " Sunday, I obliged to 
sit still by Miss Christie till I had the spirit of obedience." 
As a child, and throughout all the earlier part of her life, 
Florence was much given to dreaming, and in some intro- 
spective speculations written in 185 1 she recalled the 
pleasures of naughtiness. " When I was a child and was 
naughty, it always put an end to my dreaming for the time. 
I never could tell why. Was it because naughtiness was a 
more interesting state than the little motives which make 
man's peaceful civilized state, and occupied imagination 
for the time ? " To Miss Christie, her first governess, 
Florence became greatly attached, and the death of the 
lady a few years later threw her into deep grief. She was 
a sensitive, and a somewhat morbid child ; and though 
she presently developed a lively sense of humour, to which 
she had the capacity of giving trenchant expression, it 
was the humour of intellect rather than the outcome of a 

^ Freddy, who was a bright, promising boy, went with Sir George Grey 
on his journey of exploration in Australia, and there died of starvation. 
In Rees's Life of Sir George Grey a note was made, by Sir George's desire, 
as to his having " met the death of a martyr in the cause of science and dis- 
covery, led on by personal friendship and affection for Sir George himself." 

12 EDUCATION ft. 1 

joyous disposition. Her early letters contain little note of 
childish fun. They are for the most part grave and intro- 
spective. She was self-absorbed, and had the shyness which 
attends upon that habit. " My greatest ambition," she 
wrote in some private reminiscences of her early life, " was 
not to be remarked. I was always in mortal fear of doing 
something unlike other people, and I said, ' If I were sure 
that nobody would remark me I should be quite happy.' I 
had a morbid terror of not using my knives and forks like 
other people when I should come out. I was afraid of 
speaking to children because I was sure I should not please 
them." Meanwhile, she was perhaps at times, even as a 
child, a little " difficult " at home. " Ask Flo," wrote her 
father to his wife in 1832, " if she has lost her intellect. If 
not, why does she grumble at troubles which she cannot 
remedy by grumbling ? " 


The appeal to his daughter's intellect was characteristic 
of Mr. Nightingale. He was himself a well-informed man, 
educated at Edinburgh, and Trinity, Cambridge ; and, like 
some others of the Unitarian circle, he held views much in ad- 
vance of the average opinion of his time about the intellectual 
education of women. The home education of his daughters 
was largely supervised by himself ; it included a range of 
subjects far outside the curriculum current in " young ladies' 
seminaries " ; and perhaps, like Hannah More's father, he 
was sometimes " frightened at his own success." Letters 
and note-books show, it is true, that his daughters were duly 
instructed in the accomplishments deemed appropriate to 
young ladies. We hear of them learning the use of the 
globes, writing books of elegant extracts, working footstools, 
and doing fancy work. They studied music, grammar, 
composition, modern languages. " We used to read Tasso 
and Ariosto and Alfieri with my father," Florence said ; "he 
was a good and always interested Italian scholar, never 
pedantic, never a tiresome grammarian, but he spoke 
Italian like an Italian and I took care of the verbs." Mr. 
Nightingale added constitutional history, Latin, Greek, and 
mathematics. By .the time Florence was sixteen, he was 


reading Homer with his daughters. Miss Nightingale used 
to say that at Greek her sister was the quicker scholar. Their 
father set them appointed tasks to prepare. Parthenope 
would trust largely to improvisation or lucky shots. 
Florence was more laborious ; and sometimes would get up 
at four in the morning to prepare the lesson. Her knowledge 
of Latin was of some practical use in later years. In con- 
versations with abbots and monks whom she met during her 
travels she sometimes found in Latin their only common 
tongue. Among Florence's papers were preserved many 
sheets in her father's handwriting, containing the heads of 
admirable outlines of the political history of England and of 
some foreign states. Her own note-books show that in her 
teens she had mastered the elements of Latin and Greek. 
She analysed the Tusculan Disputations. She translated 
portions of the Phaedo, the Crito and the Apology. She had 
studied Roman, German, Italian, and Turkish history. She had 
analysed Dugald Stewart's Philosophy of the Human Mind. 
Her father was in the habit, too, of suggesting themes on 
which his daughters were to write compositions. It was the 
system of the College Essay. " Florence has now taken to 
mathematics," wrote her sister in 1840, " and, like every- 
thing she undertakes, she is deep in them and working very 
hard." The direction in which Florence Nightingale was to 
exercise the faculties thus trained was as yet hidden in the 
future ; but to her father's guidance she was indebted for 
the mental grasp and power of intellectual concentration 
which were to distinguish her work in life. 

It is a natural temptation of biographers to give a formal 
unity to their subject by representing the child as in all 
things the father of the man ; to date the vocation of their 
hero or heroine very early in life ; to magnify some childish 
incident as prophetic of what is to come thereafter. Material 
is available for such treatment in the case of Florence 
Nightingale. It has been recorded that she used to nurse 
and bandage the dolls which her elder sister damaged. 
Every book about the heroine of the Crimea contains, too, a 
tale of " first aid to the wounded " which Florence adminis- 
tered to Cap, the shepherd's collie, whom she found with a 
broken leg on the downs near Embley. " I wonder," wrote 


her " old Pastor " ^ to her in 1858, " whether you remember 
how, twenty-two years ago, you and I together averted the 
intended hanging of poor old Shepherd Smithers's dog, Cap. 
How many times I have told the story since ! I well 
recollect the pleasure which the saving of the life of a poor 
dog then gave to your young mind. I was delighted to 
witness it ; it was to me not indeed an omen of what you 
were about to do and be (for of that I never dreamed), but 
it was an index of that kind and benevolent disposition, of 
that I Cor, xiii. Charity, which has been at the root of it." 
And it is certainly interesting and curious, if nothing more, 
that the very earliest piece in the handwriting of Florence 
Nightingale which has been preserved should be a medical 
prescription. It is contained in a tiny book, about the size 
of a postage-stamp, which the little girl stitched together and 
in which the instruction is written, in very childish letters, 
" 16 grains for an old woman, 11 for a young woman, and 
7 for a child." But these things are after all but trifles. 
Florence Nightingale is not the only little girl who has been 
fond of nursing sick dolls or mending them when broken. 
Other children have tended wounded animals and had their 
pill-boxes and simples. Much, too, has been written about 
Florence's kindness as a child to her poorer neighbours. 
Her mother, both at Lea Hurst and at Embley, sometimes 
occupied herself in good works. She and her husband were 
particularly interested in a " cheap school " which they 
supported at their Derbyshire home. " Large sums of 
money have been paid," wrote Mr. Nightingale to his wife 
in 1832, " to your schoolmistress for many praiseworthy 
purposes, who works con amore in looking after the whole 
population, young and old." Florence took her place, beside 
her mother, in visiting poor neighbours, in arranging school- 
treats, in giving village entertainments. But thousands of 
other squires' daughters, before and after her, have done the 
like. And Florence herself, as many entries in her diaries 
show, was not conscious of doing much, but reproachful of 
herself for doing Httle. The constant burden of her self- 
examination, both at this time and for many years to come, 
was that she was for ever " dreaming " and never " doing." 

1 The Rev. J. T. GifEard. 


She was dreaming because for a long time she did not clearly 
feel or see what her work in life was to be ; and then for yet 
another period of time because, when she knew what she 
was called to do, she could not compass the means to do it. 
Her faculties were not brought outwards, but were left, by 
the conditions of her life, to devour themselves inwardly. 

The discovery of her true vocation belongs, then, to a 
later period of our story ; and it was not the result of childish 
fancy, or the accomplishment of early incident ; it was the 
fruit of long and earnest study. What did come to Florence 
Nightingale early in life — perhaps, as one entry in her auto- 
biographical notes suggests, as early as her sixth year — was 
the sense of a " call " ; of some appointed mission in life ; 
of self -dedication to the service of God. " I remember her," 
wrote Fanny Allen in 1857 ^^ her niece Elizabeth Wedgwood, 
" as a little girl of three or four, then the girl of sixteen of 
high promise. When I look back on every time I saw her 
after her sixteenth year, I see that she was ripening 
constantly for her work, and that her mind was dwelling on 
the painful differences of man and man in this life, and on the 
traps that a luxurious life laid for the affluent. A conversa- 
tion on this subject between the father and daughter made 
me laugh at the time, the contrast was so striking ; but now, 
as I remember it, it was the Divine Spirit breathing in her." ^ 
In an autobiographical fragment written in 1867 Florence 
mentions as one of the crises of her inner life that " God 
called htr to His service " on February 7, 1837, ^^ Embley ; 
and there are later notes which still fix that day as the dawn 
of her true life. But as yet she knew not whither the Spirit 
was to lead. For three months, indeed, as she notes in 
another passage of retrospect, she " worked very hard among 
the poor people " under " a strong feeling of religion." 


Presently, however, a new direction was given to her 
thoughts and interests. She was now seventeen, her sister 
eighteen. Their home education had been far .advanced, 
and might seem to require only such " finishing " as masters 
and society in France and Italy could supply. Mr. Nightin- 

^ A Century of Family Letters, vol. ii. p. 174. 

i6 FOREIGN TOUR: 1837-9 ^^.i 

gale had, moreover, decided to carry out extensive altera- 
tions at Embley. With his wife and daughters, he crossed 
from Southampton to Havre on September 8, 1837, ^^^ they 
did not return to England till April 6, 1839. Those were 
days of leisurely travel, such as Ruskin describes, in which 
" distance could not be vanquished without toil, but in 
which that toil was rewarded, partly by the power of de- 
liberate survey of the countries through which the journey 
lay, and partly by the happiness of the evening hours, when 
from the top of the last hill he had surmounted, the traveller 
beheld the quiet village where he was to rest, scattered among 
the meadows beside its valley stream ; or, from the long- 
hoped-for turn in the dusty perspective of the causeway, 
saw, for the first time, the towers of some famed city, faint 
in the rays of sunset — hours of peaceful and thoughtful 
pleasure, for which the rush of the arrival in the railway 
station is perhaps not always, or to all men, an equivalent." 
There were many such hours during the journeys which the 
Nightingales took with a vetturino through France and Italy ; 
and Florence, writing at a later date, when all her life was 
fixed on doing, noted that on this tour there was " too much 
time for dreaming." Yet it is clear from her diaries that she 
entered heartily, and with a wider range of interest than 
some English travellers show, into the life of foreign society 
and sight-seeing. A love of statistical method which became 
one of her most marked characteristics may already be seen 
in an itinerary which she compiled ; noting, in its several 
columns, the number of leagues from place to place, with 
the day and the hour both of arrival and of departure. They 
went leisurely through France, visiting, besides many other 
places, Chartres, Blois, Tours, Nantes, Bordeaux, Biarritz, 
Carcassonne, Nimes, Avignon, and Toulon, and then going by 
the Riviera to Nice. There they stayed for nearly a month 
(Dec. 1837-Jan. 1838). A month was next spent at Genoa, 
and two months were given to Florence. The late spring 
and summer were devoted to travel in the cities of Northern 
Italy, among the lakes, and in Switzerland. They spent the 
month of September in Geneva, and reached Paris on 
October 8, 1838. Miss Nightingale preserved her diary of 
the greater part of the tour, and it shows her keenly interested 


alike in scenery and in works of art. It contains also, what 
records of sentimental pilgrimages often lack, an admixture 
of notes and statistics upon the laws, the land systems, the 
social conditions and benevolent institutions of the several 
states or cantons. Her interest in the politics of the day was 
keen wherever she was ; and the society of many refugees 
into which she was thrown at Geneva gave her a particularly 
ardent sympathy with the cause of Italian freedom. The 
diary contains many biographical notes upon Italian patriots, 
whose adventures she heard related by their own lips. " A 
stirring day," she wrote on September 12 (1838), " the most 
stirring which we have ever lived." It was the day on which 
the news reached Geneva that the Emperor of Austria had 
declared an amnesty in Italy. The Nightingales attended 
an evening party at which the Italian refugees assembled 
and the Imperial decree was read out amidst loud jubilation ; 
which, however, was afterwards abated when it turned 
out that the " general amnesty " contained many conditions 
and some exceptions. The Nightingales had the entree to 
all the learned society of Geneva. Florence records an 
evening spent with M. de CandoUe, the famous botanist ; 
and the diary gives many glimpses of Sismondi, the historian, 
who was then living in his native city. He escorted the 
Nightingale party up the Saleve. They made that not very 
formidable ascent first on donkeys and then " in a sledge 
covered with straw and drawn by four oxen." Florence was 
present on another occasion when " all the company gathered 
round Sismondi who, sitting on a table, gave us a lecture on 
Florentine history." The conscientious Florence made a 
full note in her diary of the great man's discourse. " All 
Sismondi's political economy," she also noted, " seems to be 
founded on the overflowing kindness of his heart. He gives 
to old beggars on principle, to young from habit. At 
Pescia he had 300 beggars at his door on one morning. He 
feeds the mice in his room while he is writing his histories." 
Presently there was a new excitement in Geneva. " What a 
stirring time we live in," Florence wrote on September 18 ; 
" one day to decide the fate of the Italians, to-morrow to 
decide the fate of Switzerland." " To-morrow " was the 
day fixed for the meeting of the Conseil Representatif 



which was to take into consideration the demand of Louis 
PhiHppe for the expulsion of Louis Napoleon, the future 
Emperor. Many pages of Miss Nightingale's diary are given 
up to this affair. She analysed all the pros and cons, and 
recorded day by day the course of the debate. Sismondi 
thought that the refugee ought to be surrendered — on 
principle because he was a pretender, in expediency because 
Geneva would be unable to withstand a French assault. He 
" spoke for an hour " in this sense. The Genevois radicals, 
on the other hand, while entertaining no great love for the 
pretender, thought that, cost what it might, " the sacred 
right of asylum " should be maintained. And so the debate 
continued. The French Government began to move troops 
from Lyons ; the Genevois, to throw up fortifications. 
Whereupon Mr. Nightingale, like many other English visitors, 
thought it time to take his family across the frontier. Miss 
Nightingale's diary written en route to Paris shows her 
excitement to obtain news of the crisis. When she learnt 
that it had been solved by Louis Napoleon being given a 
passport for England, she did not see that Louis Philippe 
had gained very much ; the pretender would be nearer, and 
not less dangerous, in London than in Geneva — a very just 
prediction. Not every girl of eighteen, when taking her 
first tour abroad, shows so lively an interest in political 

Politics and social observations mingle in the diary with 
artistic and architectural notes. The city which seems most 
to have appealed to her imagination was not Florence ; 
though she said that she " would not have missed it for 
anything," and, curiously, her sojourn in her birthplace was 
the occasion of a characteristic incident. An English lady, 
who afterwards became Princess Reuss Kostritz, was staying 
in the same lodgings and fell ill, and Florence Nightingale 
volunteered to nurse her. But the city which she most 
admired was Genoa La Superba. She notes indeed the 
excessive indolence of the nobles and excessive poverty of 
the people, but the palaces " realized an Arabian Nights 
story " for her. Mr. and Mrs. Nightingale had many friends 
and brought many introductions. In the various towns 
where they stayed they mixed in the best society, and their 

cH. I " MUSIC-MAD " 19 

daughters were thrown into a Hvely round of picnics, concerts, 
soirees, dancing : 

Balls and masks begun at midnight, burning ever to mid-day, 
\Vhen they made up fresh adventures for the morrow — 

There were Court balls at which Grand Dukes were " exceed- 
ingly polite " to Florence Nightingale and her sister. They 
went to an evening Court at Florence, and found " everyone 
most courteous and agreeable." There was a ball at the 
Casino in Genoa, at which, writes Florence in her diary, 
" my partner and I made an emhrouillement, and a military 
oihcer came up with a very angry face to challenge me for 
having refused him and then not dancing." But the music 
was not all to the tune of "A Toccata of Galuppi's." What 
gave Florence the greatest pleasure on this tour was the 
Italian opera. In those days the reigning singers were Grisi, 
Lablache, Rubini, and Tamburini. Florence Nightingale 
heard them all. Her Italian diary is nowhere so elaborate 
as in descriptions of the operas and in notes on the per- 
formers. She kept a separate book in which she wrote 
tabulated details of all the performances. " I should like to 
go every night," she said in her diary ; and for some time 
after her return from the Continent she was, as she wrote 
to Miss Clarke, " music-mad." She took music-lessons at 
Florence, and in London studied under German and Italian 
masters. She played and sang. It was as yet uncertain 
whether " the call " — to what, as yet also unknown — might 
not be di owned in the tastes, interests, and pursuits which 
fill the life of other young ladies in her position. 


The fascination of social life must have been brought 
vividly before her during the winter (1838-39) which they 
spent in Paris, in apartments in the Place Vendome (No. 22) . 
She was now introduced into the brilliant circle of the last 
of the salons. Mary Clarke, afterwards Madame Mohl, was 
by descent half Irish, half Scottish ; by education and 
residence, almost wholly French. " A charming mixture," 
said Ampere of her, " of French vivacity and English origin- 


ality." Full at once of esprit and of espieglerie, well read 
and artistic yet wholly devoid of pedantry, without regular 
beauty of feature, but alert and piquante, Mary Clarke had 
gathered round her what Ticknor in 1837 had found the most 
intellectual circle in Paris. For seven years she and her 
mother lived in apartments in the Abbaye-au-Bois, adjoin- 
ing those of Madame Recamier, and Mary was a daily visitor 
to the famous salon during the reign of Chateaubriand, 
whose closing years she did much to brighten and amuse. 
At the time when the Nightingales arrived in Paris, Mrs. and 
Miss Clarke had left the Abbaye-au-Bois and established 
themselves in those apartments in the Rue du Bac which 
for nearly forty years were a haunt of all that was brilliant 
in the intellectual life of Paris. Mary Clarke took most 
affectionately to the Nightingale family, who, with some 
of their connections, remained for long years among her 
closest friends. She used to pay a yearly visit to Mr. and 
Mrs. Nightingale, either at Embley or at Lea Hurst, 
generally staying three weeks or a month ; and to her 
many of Florence's most interesting letters were, as we 
shall find, addressed. To her other and more superficial 
qualities, Mary Clarke added great warmth of lasting affection 
for her intimate friends, and her sympathetic kindness to the 
Nightingale circle was unfailing. The attraction of Paris to 
Florence lay principally in its hospitals and nursing sister- 
hoods, but partly also in that it was the home of " Clarkey," 
as they called her. And it was the same with other members 
of the family. There is a letter from Lady Verney to Clarkey 
which describes how some one asked Mr. Nightingale, " Are 
you going to Paris ? " " Oh, no," he replied ; " Madame 
Mohl is ill." " Then does Paris mean Madame Mohl ? " 
" Yes, certainly," he replied gravely. During the winter of 
1838-39 Miss Clarke, writes Lady Verney, was " exceedingly 
kind to Florence and me, two young girls full of all kinds of 
interests, which she took the greatest pains to help. She 
made us acquainted with all her friends, many and notable, 
among them Madame Recamier. I know now, better than 
then, what her influence must have been thus to introduce 
an English family (two of them girls who, if French, would 
not have appeared in society) into that jealously guarded 


sanctuary, the most exclusive aristocratic and literary salon 
in Paris, We were asked, even, to the reading by Chateau- 
briand, at the Abbaye-au-Bois, of his Memoir es d'Outre- 
Tombe, which he could not wait to put forth, as he had 
intended when writing them, until after his death — desiring, 
it was said, to discount the praises which he expected, but 
hardly received. This hearing was a favour eagerly sought 
for by the cream of the cream of Paris society at that time." ^ 
In Miss Clarke's own apartments, the Nightingales met 
many distinguished men. The intimates who were always 
there, and who assisted their hostess in making the tea, were 
MM. Fauriel and Mohl — Claude Fauriel, versed in mediaeval 
and Proven9al lore, a man exceedingly handsome, who had 
captivated Madame de Stael and other ladies besides Mary 
Clarke in his friendships ; and Julius Mohl, one of the 
first Orientalists in' Europe, a more ardent lover whom, 
after a probation of eighteen years, Miss Clarke married in 
1847. M. Mohl was once asked by Queen Victoria why, 
loving Germany so much, he had given up his native country 
for France. " Ma foi, madame," he replied, " j'etais 
amoureux." With M. Mohl, no less than with his wife, 
Florence Nightingale was on terms of affectionate friendship. 
Among the frequent visitors whom she and her sister met at 
Miss Clarke's were Madame Tastu (the poetess), Elie de 
Beaumont (the geologist), Roulin (the traveller and natural- 
ist), Cousin, Mignet, Guizot, Tocqueville, Barthelemy St. 
Hilaire, and Thiers. The last-named was one of Miss Clarke's 
earliest admirers ; and many years later, after the Franco- 
German war, when Thiers was at the head of affairs, Lady 
Verney heard M. Mohl say to his wife, " Madame, why did 
you not marry M. Thiers instead of me, for now you would 
have been Queen of France ? " 

In such circles as that which gathered around Miss 
Clarke, Florence Nightingale was well qualified to hold her 
own and even to play a brilliant part. Her life of gaiety 
on the Riviera and in Italy must have rubbed away much of 
the shyness from which she had suffered. If not beautiful, 
she was elegant and distinguished. She was both widely 
and deeply read. She had many and varied interests. She 

^ Julius and Mary Mohl, p. 29. 


had powers of expression, in which clearness was not un- 
mixed with a note of humorous subacidity. These are 
social advantages, and she was not without the inclination 
to use them. She chose in the end another path — a path 
which was beset by many obstacles of circumstance ; but 
there were obstacles in herself also, and one of the last 
" temptations " to be overcome, before she was free to 
interpret her call and to act upon it, was (as she wrote in 
many a page of confession and self-examination) " the desire 
to shine in society." 




Her passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic life : what were many- 
volumed romances of chivalry and the social conquests of a brilliant girl 
to her ? Her flame quickly burned up that light fuel ; and, fed from 
within, soared after some ilhmitable satisfaction, some object which 
would never justify weariness, which would reconcile self - despair 
with the rapturous consciousness of life beyond self. — George Eliot : 

The home life to which Florence Nightingale returned in 
April 1839 was rich in possibilities of social pleasure, and 
might have seemed to promise every happiness. She was 
well fitted by nature and by education to be an ornament 
of any country house ; to shine in any cultivated society ; 
to become the wiie, as many of her best friends hoped and 
believed, of some good and clever man. But Florence, as 
she passed from childhood to womanhood, came to form 
other plans. Her life, as she ultimately shaped it, her 
example, which circumstances were destined to render far- 
shining, have been potent factors in opening new avenues 
for women in the modern world. Thousands of women in 
these days are, in consequence of Florence Nightingale's 
career, born free ; but it was at a great price, and after 
long and weary struggles, that she herself attained such 
freedom. During the years with which, in this Part, we 
shall be concerned, she lived in some sort the life of a 
caged bird. 

The cage, however, was pleasantly gilded. Florence was 
not always insensible of the gilding ; there were times when 



she was tempted to chafe no longer at its bars, and to accept 
a restricted Hfe within the conventional lines. I do not 
propose to detail, as might be done from her letters, diaries, 
and other materials, the precise succession of her goings 
and comings, her visits, and her home pursuits. She her- 
self gives an excellent reason in one of her diaries. " Our 
movements are so regular," she said ; one year was very 
like another. The setting of Florence Nightingale's life 
during this period was such as many women have enjoyed, 
and many others have envied. The lines of the Nightingale 
family were laid in pleasant places. Their summer months 
were spent, as in preceding years, at Lea Hurst. A portion 
of the season was spent in London, and the rest of the year 
at Embley. On their return from the Continent in 1839, 
the Nightingales spent some weeks in London, when the 
two girls were presented at Court, and a letter to Miss 
Clarke shows Florence absorbed in music, but not so com- 
pletely as to conquer a lively interest in the politics of the 
Bedchamber Plot : — 

Carlton Hotel, Regent Street, June i [1839]. . . . We 
are enjoying ourselves much, for the Nicholsons, our cousins, 
came up to town the day after we did, and are living in the 
same hotel with us in Regent Street, the best situation in 
London, I think, but some people call it too noisy. As Marianne 
Nicholson is as music-mad as I am, we are revelling in music all 
day long. Schulz, who is a splendid player, and Crivelli, her 
singing master, give us lessons, and the unfortunate piano has 
been strummed out of tune in a week, not having even its natural 
rest at nights, as there are other masters as well. We went 
to Pauline Garcia's debut at the opera in Otello. She was 
exceedingly nervous and trembled all over, but her great im- 
provement towards the end promised well. Her lower notes 
are very fine indeed, and two shakes she made low down, though 
too much like instrumental to be agreeable, were very extra- 
ordinary. Her voice, however, is excessively unequal, and 
sometimes her singing is quite commonplace. She makes too 
much of her execution, which is very uneven. It is very easy to 
say that she will be another Mahbran, but if they were side by 
side the difference would be seen ; so say wiser judges than we. 
Even Grisi is quite superior to her in Desdemona, although 
P. Garcia's voice is the most powerful, but then P. Garcia was 
excessively frightened. We have heard her sing a duet with 
Persiani in which both were perfect, and I heard Dohler for the 


first time at the same concert. I was nowise disappointed, 
although I had heard so much of him at Paris, his execution is 
extraordinary, but I think one would soon grow tired of it, for 
both his music and his style are very inferior to Thalberg's. 
Have you heard Batta on the violoncello at Paris ? His playing 
approaches more nearly to the human voice than anything I 
ever heard. We are going to hear charming Persiani to-night in 
the Lucia di Lammermoor. Tamburini, the most good-natured 
of mortals, has volunteered to come and sing two or three hours 
with my cousin Marianne every season, whenever she thinks 
herself sufficiently advanced. We are going to hear him at a 
private concert on Monday. 

Now there has been enough and too much of musical news, 
but poUtical news is scarce. . . . London was in a perfect whirl- 
wind of excitement for the few days that the Melbourne ministry 
was out, but that is stale already. Our httle Queen, who was 
sadly unpopular when we first came to England, recovered much 
of her former favour with the W^ig party after the firmness she 
showed in this affair. She was cheered and called forward at the 
opera, which had not been done for months, and again returning 
from chapel. And the birthday drawing-room was overflowing, 
whereas at the two first she gave this season, there were hardly 
forty people ! The story of this last fracas is that on Tuesday, 
the day of Lord Melbourne's resignation, the Queen dined upstairs 
with her mother. Baroness Lehzen, and Lady F. Hastings, which 
she had never done since her accession, and it is supposed that 
the amende honorable was then made to Lady Flora, and that 
in this partie carree was also arranged the course which was to 
be pursued with Sir Robert Peel. The poor little Queen was 
seen in tears by several people who told us in the course of the 
three days, and struggled for her Ladies, as you see, manfully. 
However matters may turn out now, it is said that she has taken 
so tremendous a dishke to Sir R. Peel in this affair, that she will 
never send for him again. 

Since that, the House has been adjourned for a fortnight 
and only met last Monday when the Speaker was elected, 
Abercromby going up to the House of Peers. We are rejoicing 
in the election of Shaw Lefevre, by a majority of eighteen ; rather 
less than was expected, however, Spring Rice arriving half an hour 
too late to vote, which has made rather a commotion. Shaw 
Lefevre is a great friend of ours, and a very agreeable man, which 
is his chief quahfication for the chair. Macaulay is not likely 
to come into the Ministry; Lord Melbourne says that it is im- 
possible to get on with a man who talks so fast. So he is now 
writing history, and saying that it is the only thing worth doing, 
except, however, standing for Edinburgh in Abercromby 's room 


against Crawford. Macaulay has made an admirable speech in 
favour of ballot there. 

The Queen is vibrating between popularity and unpopularity, 
and it is not yet known which way the scale will turn between 
the two parties; she was very much applauded, and Lord 
Melbourne too, at Ascot yesterday. He is Hkely to keep the 
upper hand, as the Tories have not such a man as Lord John 
Russell in all their party, and the nine obstreperous Radicals 
have had a sop and give in their adhesion for the present. Papa 
is shocked to hear that M. Guizot has declared himself so anti- 
EngHsh. . . . 

We always talk of you and all that you did for us at Paris. 
I heard yesterday that Gonfalonier! was coming to London in a 
month. Is he at Paris now ? I have just been reading the 
account of M. Mignet's eloge of Talleyrand. I hope you were 
there, for it must have been very interesting, but did not he make 
rather an extraordinary defence of Talleyrand's political ter- 
giversation, and of his conduct while the Allies were at Paris ? 
extraordinary to our ideas of political integrity. We met 
" ubiquity " Young and Mr. Babbage yesterday at dinner at the 
E. Strutts', who told all sorts of droll stories about Lord 
Brougham, who seems to have fairly lost his wits. He had Lord 
Duncannon to dine with him the other day, which is new, he 
having formerly stipulated when he went out to dinner that he 
should see none of his former colleagues. He sends his carriage 
to stand before Lord Denman's house for hours while he goes 
and walks in the Park, or even while he is out of town, to give the 
idea that they are very intimate. . . . 

In another letter to Miss Clarke (Sept. i8), some further 
gossip is given. Miss Nightingale was on her way back to 
London from Lea Hurst, and had broken the journey at 
Nottingham : — 

The next day we went up to town by rail in six and a half hours, 
notwithstanding that the engine was twice out of order and 
stopped us. We had very agreeable company on the road, a 
neighbour of ours and equerry to the Queen,^ who was full of her 
virtues and condescensions. How much pleasanter it is travelhng 
by these public conveyances than in one's own stupid carriage. 
He said that Lord Melbourne called the Queen's favourite terrier 
a frightful httle beast, and often contradicted her fiat, all which 
she takes in good part, and lets him go to sleep after dinner, 

^ General Sir Frederick Stovin, G.C.B. He was groom-in-waiting to 
Queen Victoria from 1837 to i860. 


taking care that he shall not be waked. ^ She reads all the 
newspapers and all the viHf5ang abuse which the Tories give her, 
and makes up her mind that a queen must be abused, and hates 
them cordially. 


The Nightingales had taken up their residence at 
Embley in September 1839, ^^'^ remained there, in accord- 
ance with their wont, till the early summer following. The 
charm of the place is vividly described in a letter from 
Florence's sister to her cousin. Miss Hilary Bonham Carter: — 

My Love — It is so beautiful in this world ! so very beautiful, 
you really cannot fancy anything so near approaching to Eden 
or fairy-land, or il paradiso terrestre as depicted in the 25th 
Canto, stanza 40 something ; so very, very lovely that we cannot 
resist a very strong desire that you should come down and see 
it. My dear, I assure you we are worth seeing. I never, though 
blest with many fair visions (both in my sleeping and my waking 
hours), conceived anything so exquisite as to-day lying among 
the flowers, such smells and such sounds hovering round me ! 
Flo reading and talking so that my immortal profited too, and 
she comforted me when I said I must have much of the beast in 
me to be so very happy in the sunshine and the flowers, by suggest- 
ing that God gave us His blessings to enjoy them. So I am 
comforted, and set to work to enjoy with all my might, and 
succeed a merveille. StiU the garden is big, there are many 
clumps of rhododendrons and azaleas, and showers of rosebuds, 
and I cannot be all round them at once ; so we want you to 
come and help, not so much for your pleasure as to reheve the 
weight of responsibihty, you see. . . . My love, I am writing 
perched on a chair on the grass, nightingales all round, blue sky 
above {such long shadows sleeping on the lawn), and June smells 
about me. Will you not come ? The rhododendrons are early 
this year, and will be much passed in another ten days. Will 
you not come ? If you ask learned men they will tell you 
June at Embley is a poetry ready made ; and the first thing I 
shall do when I get to heaven (you'd better set about getting 
there Miss Pop directly, you're a very long way off at these 

^ Many stories of Lord Melbourne and the " dull dog " are now ac- 
cessible in the Queen's own diaries, but he made friends with the pets in 
the end. The Queen may have forbidden others to wake her Minister ; 
but she herself objected sometimes, though with a pretty playfulness, 
to his snoring. See The Girlhood of Queen Victoria, vol. ii. p. 240. 


presents), where I expect to have the gift of language, is to 
celebrate the pomps and beauties of the garden in this wicked 
world, than which I never wish for a better. 

Florence and her sister loved each other, but their 
characters were widely different, as we shall hear, and their 
love at this time was not that of perfect sympathy, but rather 
of wistful admiration on the one side, and half-pit3dng fond- 
ness on the other. Parthenope looked upon Florence as upon 
some strange being in another world, whose happiness she 
passionately longed to see, and whose rejection of it she could 
but dimly understand. Florence, on her side, regarded her 
elder sister's contentment in the beauties of art and nature, 
and in the world as she found it, with the tender pity which 
one may feel for a happy child. " It would be an ill return 
for all her affection," wrote Florence to one of her aunts, 
" to drag down my White Swan from her cool, fresh, blue 
sea of art into our baby chicken-yard of struggling, scratting ^ 
life. How cruel it would be, as she is rocked to rest there 
on her dreamy waves, for anybody to waken her." The 
difference in temperament between the sisters comes out 
very clearly in their several descriptions of Embley. Flor- 
ence was sensible of its beauties, but they came to her with 
thoughts of a better world beyond, or with echoes from 
the still sad music of humanity in the world that now is. 
" I should have so liked you to see Embley in the summer," 
she wrote, 2 " for everything is such a blaze of beauty. I 
had such a lovely walk yesterday before breakfast. The 
voice of the birds is like the angels calling me with their 
songs, and the fleecy clouds look like the white walls of 
our Home. Nothing makes my heart thrill like the voice 
of the birds ; but the living chorus so seldom finds a second 
voice in the starved and earthly soul, which, like the withered 
arm, cannot stretch forth its hand till Christ bids it." A 

^ An expressive, old English word, which often occurs in Miss Nightin- 
gale's letters. " As we say in Derbyshire," she sometimes added. George 
Eliot, also of Derbyshire, often uses it. 

2 Miss Nightingale took great pains with most of her letters. She 
often made a rough draft in a note-book, and then used the same words in 
letters to different correspondents, or used part of the original passage 
in a letter to one correspondent, and part in a letter to another. Here, as 
in one or two other cases, I reunite passages from two letters. One of 
them was addressed to the same cousin to whom Parthenope wrote. 


very different note, it will be observed, from that which 
Parthenope — and Pippa — heard from "the lark on the wing." 
And so, too, with regard to the house at Embley. Mr. 
Nightingale had found it a plain, substantial building of the 
Georgian period. He enlarged it into an ornate mansion 
in the Elizabethan style. His wife and elder daughter 
were much occupied with the interest of furnishing it ap- 
propriately, and Mr. Nightingale was greatly pleased with 
his alterations. " Do you know," said Florence, as she 
walked with an American friend on the lawn in front of the 
drawing-room, " what I always think when I look at that 
row of windows ? I think how I should turn it into a 
hospital, and just how I should place the beds." ^ 


Embley was now a large house, with accommodation 
enough to receive at one time, as Florence recorded in a 
letter, " five able-bodied married females, with their hus- 
bands and belongings." The large number of Mr. Nightin- 
gale's brothers and sisters, some of whom had many sons 
and daughters, made the family circle of the Nightingales a 
very wide one. Between four of the families the intercourse 
was particularly close — the Nightingales, the Nicholsons, 
the Bonham Carters, and the Samuel Smiths. One of Mrs. 
Nightingale's sisters married Mr. George Thomas Nicholson, 
of Waverley Abbey, near Farnham, Surrey. ^ Among their 
children, Marianne was as a girl a great friend of her cousin 
Florence. In 1851 Miss Nicholson married Captain (after- 
wards Sir) Douglas Galton, who, some few years later, 
became closely and helpfully connected with Miss Nightin- 
gale's work. To Mr. Nicholson's sister, " Aunt Hannah," 
Florence was greatly attached. Another of Mrs. Nightin- 
gale's sisters married Mr. John Bonham Carter, of Ditcham, 
near Petersfield, for many years M.P. for Portsmouth. His 
eldest daughter, Joanna Hilary, was a particular friend of 
Florence Nightingale, who said that of all her contempor- 

^ Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell's Pioneer Work, 1895, p. 185. 
* The annals of the Cistercian Abbey (of which ruins remain) are said 
to have suggested to Sir Walter Scott the name of his first novel. 


aries within her circle, her cousin Hilary was the most 
gifted. One of the sons, Mr. Henry Bonham Carter, was, 
and is. Secretary of the Nightingale Fund, and Miss Nightin- 
gale appointed him one of her executors. Between the 
Nightingales and the Samuel Smiths the relationship was 
double. Mrs. Nightingale's brother, Mr. Samuel Smith, of 
Combe Hurst, Surrey, married Mary Shore, sister of Mr. 
Nightingale ; moreover, their son, Mr. William Shore Smith, 
was the heir (after his mother) to the entailed land at 
Embley and Lea Hurst, in default of a son to Mr. Nightin- 
gale. The eldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Smith, 
Blanche, married Arthur Hugh Clough, the poet, who, as 
we shall hear, was closely associated with Miss Nightingale. 
There were many other relations ; but without being 
troubled to go into further details, which might tax severely 
even the authoress of the Pillars of the House, the reader 
will perceive that Florence Nightingale was well provided 
with uncles, aunts, and cousins. 

The fact is of some significance in understanding the 
circumstances of her life at this time, and the nature of 
her struggle for independence. Emancipated or revolting 
daughters are sometimes pardoned or condoned if they 
can aver that they have few home ties. To Mrs. Nightingale 
it may have seemed that in the domestic intercourse within 
so large a family circle, any comfortable daughter might 
find abundance of outlet and interest. And so, in one respect 
at least, her daughter Florence did. The maternal instinct 
in her, for which she was not in her own person to find 
fruition, went out in almost passionate fulness to the young 
cousin, William Shore Smith, mentioned above. He was 
" her boy," she used to say, from the day on which he was 
put as a baby into her arms when she was eleven years old. 
Up to the time of his going up to Cambridge, he spent a 
portion of his holidays in every year at Lea Hurst or Embley. 
Florence's letters at such times were full of him. She was 
successively his nurse, playfellow, and tutor. " The son of 
my heart," she called him ; " while he is with me all that 
is mine is his, my head and hands and time." 

It generally happens in any large family circle that there 
is one woman to whom all its members instinctively turn 


when trouble comes or help is needed. Florence was the 
one in the Nightingale circle who filled this role of Sister of 
Mercy or Emergency Man — taking charge of one household 
when an aunt was away, or being dispatched to another when 
illness was prevalent. In 1845 she spent some time with 
her father's mother, who was threatened with paralysis, and 
whom she nursed into partial recovery. " I am very glad 
sometimes," she wrote from her grandmother's sick-room 
to her cousin Hilary, " to walk in the valley of the shadow 
of death as I do here ; there is something in the stillness 
and silence of it which levels all earthly troubles. God 
tempers our wings in the waters of that valley, and I have 
not been so happy or so thankful for a long time. And yet 
it is curious, in the last years of life, that we should go down- 
hill in order to climb up the other side ; that in the struggle 
of the spiritual with the material part of the universe, the 
material should get the better, and the soul, just at the 
moment of becoming spiritualised for ever, should seem to 
become more materialised." She made a similar reflection 
a little later in the same year (1845), when tending her old 
nurse. Gale, in her last illness. " The old lady's spirit," 
she wrote, " was in her pillow-cases, and one night when 
she thought she was dying, and I was sitting up with her, 
she said, ' Now, Miss Florence, mind you have two new cases 
made for this bed, for I think whoever sleeps here next year 
will find them comfortable.' " The death-bed of the nurse 
of the Queen of Nurses deserves some note. The last words 
of Mrs. Gale, as reported in other letters, were, " Don't wake 
the cook," " Hannah, go to your work," and " Miss Florence, 
be careful in going down those stairs." If the spirit of this 
old servant was materialised at the moment of passing, the 
materialising took the form at any rate of faithful service 
and of consideration for others. 

Florence's sympathy with those in distress is shown in 
the letter of condolence which she wrote to Miss Clarke upon 
the death of M. Fauriel : — 

Embley, July 1844. I cannot help writing one word, my 
dear Miss Clarke, after having just received your note, though 
I know I cannot say anything which can be of any comfort. 
For there are few sorrows I do believe like your sorrow, and few 


people so necessary to another's happiness of every instant, as 
he was to yours. . . . How sorry I am, dear Miss Clarke, that you 
will not think of coming to us here. Oh, do not say that you 
" will not cloud young people's spirits." Do you think young 
people are so afraid of sorrow, or that if they have lively spirits, 
which I often doubt, they think these are worth anything, except 
in so far as they can be put at the service of sorrow, not to reheve 
it, which I believe can very seldom be done, but to sympathise 
with it ? I am sure this is the only thing worth living for, and 
I do so believe that every tear one sheds waters some good thing 
into hfe. . . . Dear Miss Clarke, I wish we had you here, or at 
least could see you and pour out something of what our hearts 
are full of. That clever man of Thebes, one Cadrhus, need 
never have existed, for any good that that cold pen and ink of 
his ever did, in the way of expressing oneself. The iron pen 
seems to make the words iron, but words are what always takes 
the dust off the butterfly's wings. . . . What nights we have 
had this last month, though when one thinks that there are 
hundreds and thousands of people suffering in the same way, 
and when one sees in every cottage some trouble which defies 
sympathy — and there is all the world putting on its shoes and 
stockings every morning all the same — and the wandering earth 
going its inexorable tread-mill through those cold-hearted stars 
in the eternal silence, as if nothing were the matter ; — death 
seems less dreary than Hfe at that rate. But I did not mean 
to say that, for who would know the peace of night, if it were 
not for the troubles of the day, " the welcome, the thrice-prayed- 
for, the most fair, the best beloved night," when one feels, what 
at other times one only repeats to oneself, that the coffin of every 
hope is the cradle of a good experience, and that nobody suffers 
in vain. It is odd what want of faith one has for one's friends. 
We know what soft lots we would have made for them if we 
could ; and that we should beHeve ourselves so infinitely more 
good-natured than God, that we cannot trust their lots with 

It must not be supposed, however, that Florence was 
in request among the family circle only at times of sad 
emergency. She sometimes took her place no less effectually 
on festive occasions. Waverley Abbey, the house of Uncle 
Nicholson aforesaid, was the scene of family reunions at 
Christmas-time; and in letters to Miss Clarke from both Mrs. 
Nightingale and her daughter Parthe, there is a lively account 
of private theatricals there in 1841. The Merchant of Venice 
was chosen, and Macready volunteered some assistance. 


Parthe's artistic gifts were requisitioned, and she was 
" scene-painter, milliner, and cap -and -fur maker." The 
powers of command and organization, which Florence was 
afterwards to exhibit in another field, seem to have been 
divined by her cousins, for she was unanimously appointed 
stage-manager. Miss Joanna Horner, who was one of the 
party, remembers that the usual little jealousies about parts 
and costumes used to disappear in presence of Florence. "Flo 
very blooming," reported Mrs. Nightingale. " The actors 
were not very obstinate, and were tolerably good-tempered," 
wrote Parthe, " but it was hard work for Flo. There was a 
Captain Elliot, fresh from China, who could by no means 
be brought to obey. He was Antonio, and would burst out 
laughing in the midst of his most pathetic bits, to the horror 
of Shylock, who was very earnest and hard-working." The 
Lady-in-Chief in later years in the Crimea had a rather 
peremptory way with obstructive military gentlemen. On 
this occasion, however, she was perhaps satisfied with the 
assurance given at a well-known pantomime rehearsal, that 
it would " be all right on the night." But it was not. 
" Your flame. Uncle Adams," ^ continues the letter to Miss 
Clarke, " was very fine in Lancelot ! but, oh, desperation, 
forgot his Duke's part in the most flagrant way, tho' Flo 
had been putting it into him with a sledge-hammer all the 
week." In the intervals of rehearsing, the girls and their 
cousins danced and sang, and took large walks, sixteen 
together. After the performance, dancing was kept up till 
five in the morning. " Next day," continues Lady Verney, 
" we were debating whether ' Sing a Song of Sixpence ' 
went on with a hag or a pocket full of rye ; and warming on 
this interesting subject, we young ones dragged in all the 
old people, sought recruits high and low, and had a regular 
election scene. Uncle Adams made a hustings speech, 
giving both parties hopes of his vote ; then the boys slunk 
out after the counting, and came in with large outcries to be 
counted a second time, with many other corrupt practices 
much used at such times ; then we bribed a little boy to go 
and make disturbances in the other faction ; but you will 
be happy to hear the pockets had it by a large majority, 

^ William Adams Smith, an unmarried brother of Mrs. Nightingale. 


and we beat the base baggites out of the field. After the 
holloaing was over, and the alarming rushings and scream- 
ings we had made, M. Kroff (a Bohemian), who had listened 
and assisted, came to Mama, and said, ' This do give me the 
great idea of the liberty of your land, your young people are 
brought up so to understand it in your domestic life ; if we 
were to make such a noise we should have the police in with 
swords and cutlasses to divide us t ' " 


The Nightingales had as many friends without as within 
the family circle. Their two homes brought them in touch 
with county society alike in Derbyshire and in Hampshire, 
and acquaintanceships made in London were often ripened 
in the country, or vice versa. In Derbyshire their friends 
included the Strutts, and Richard Monckton Milnes, who 
afterwards took a cordial interest in the Nightingale Fund. 
In London, Florence and her sister went out a great deal, 
and saw all that was interesting to well-educated young 
persons. A letter from Florence to one of her aunts shows 
her occupied in politics, in literature, in astronomy, with 
something, perhaps, of the note of a blue ; yet with her 
mind already set on a purpose in life : — 

[Miss F. Nightingale to Miss Julia Smith.) June 20 
[1843]. A cold east wind, forty-one days of rain in the last 
month ! as our newspaper informs us to prove that '43 is 
worse than any preceding year. Du reste, the world very 
pleasant — people looking up in the prospect of Peel's giving 
them free trade and all radical measures in the course of one or 
two years. Carlyle's new Past and Present, a beautiful book. 
There are bits about " Work," which how I should like to read 
with you ! " Blessed is he who has found his work : let him ask 
no other blessedness. He has a work, a life-purpose : he has 
found it and will follow it. . . ." Sir J. Graham is going to be 
obliged to give up his Factories Education Bill for this year ; 
O ye bigoted Dissenters ! but I am going to hold my tongue and 
not " meddle with politics " or " talk about things which I 
don't understand," for I tremble already in anticipation, and 
proceed at once to facts. . . . The two things we have done in 
London this year — the most striking things — are seeing Bouffe 


in Clermont, the blind painter (you have seen him, so I need not 
descant on his entire difference from anybody else) ; and going 
under Mr. Bethune to Sir James South's at Kensington, ^ where 
we were from ten o'clock till three the next morning. Mr. 
Bethune is certainly the most good-natured man in ancient or 
modern history. You will fancy the first going out upon the 
lawn on that most beautiful of nights, with the immense fellow 
slung in his frame like a great steam-engine, and working as 
easily ; and the mountains of the moon striking out like bright 
points in the sky, and the little stars resolving themselves into 
double and even quadi"uple stars. . . . Those dialogues of GaUleo 
are so beautiful. Mr. Bethune lent them us to read in the real 
o\6. first edition. 

At Embley the Nightingales saw something of the 
Palmerstons and the Ashburtons. With Miss Louisa 
Stewart Mackenzie, who afterwards became the second wife 
of the second Lord Ashburton, Florence formed a friendship 
which was one of the solaces and supports of her life at this 
time. Other friends who played a yet larger part in her 
life were Mr. and Mrs. Bracebridge ^ of Atherstone, near 
Coventry. Florence sketches the character of some of her 
friends in a letter to her cousin Hilary (April 1846) : — 

Mrs. Keith, Miss Button, and Louisa Mackenzie, may be 
shortly described as the respective representatives of the Soul, 
the Mind, and the Heart. The first has one's whole worship, 
the second one's greatest admiration, and the third one's most 
lively interest. Mrs. Bracebridge may be described as all three ; 
the Human Trinity in one ; and never do I see her, without 
feeUng that she is eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. Many 
a plan, which disappointment has thinned off into a phantom 
in my mind, takes form and shape and fair reahty when touched 
by her Ithuriel's spear (for there is an Ithuriel's spear for good 
as well as for evil). 

Dr. Richard Dawes, Dean of Hereford, who was an 
educational reformer, and Dr. Fowler of Salisbury, who 
anticipated the open-air treatment, and was otherwise a 
man of marked originality, were among those whose friend- 
ship she valued, li Florence Nightingale was to find her 

^ Sir James South, astronomer (i 785-1 867), had a famous observatory 
on Campden Hill. 

2 Nee Mills, cousin of Mr. Arthur Mills, M.P. 


home life empty and unprofitable, it was not for lack of 
congenial friends. 

She saw much, too, of general society, and Embley was 
often the scene of entertaining. We get a glimpse of its 
parties from an invitation which Mr. Nightingale sent to 
Miss Clarke (Oct. 1843) to bring her friend Leopold von 
Ranke with her on a visit : — 

Pray send him a sly line to the effect that he will find Nota- 
bilities here on the 24th — to wit, the Speaker (Shaw Lefevre), 
the ex-Foreign Secretary (Palmerston), the CathoUc Weld (future 
owner of Lulworth and nephew of the Cardinal of that ilk), and 
mayhap a Queen's Equerry or two, a Baron of the Exchequer 
(Rolfe), an Inspector, or rather Engineering Architect, of the new 
prisons, 1 and a couple of Baronets. He should think well on 
this. Yours, quizzically, but faithfully, W. E. N. 

" Papa is quizzing the Baronets," added Florence, " who 
are not wise ones. Provided you come, I care for nobody, no 
not I, and shall be quite satisfied. As M. de Something said 
to the Stael, ' Nous aurons a nous deux de I'esprit pour quarante ; 
vous pour quatre et moi pour zero.' " 

There were return invitations to great houses, and 
occasionally Florence retails their gossip, or her own re- 
flections, for the benefit of cousins or aunts : — 

{To Miss Hilary Bonham Carter.) 1845 (or early '46). What 
is the secret of Lady Jocelyn's subhme placidity ? I never 
saw anything so lovely as she is, and she has lived four-and- 
twenty years of more excitement, I suppose, than ever fell to 
anybody's lot but an actress, all the young peerage having pro- 
posed to her. What gives her such a fulness of Hfe now and 
makes her find enough in herself ? It is not that she talks to 
Lord Palmerston or Lord Jocelyu, for she never does ; and 
though she is very fond of her baby, she told me herself she did 
not care to play with it. Perhaps you will say it is want of 
earnestness, but, good gracious, my dear, if earnestness breaks 
one heart, who is fulfilling most the Creation's end — she who is 
breaking her heart, or this woman who has kept her serenity in 
the midst of excitement and her simplicity in unbounded 
admiration ? The Palmerstons are certainly the most good- 
natured people under the stars to their guests. 

1 Sir Joshua Jebb, surveyor-general of prisons, designed the " model 
prison " at Pentonville. Miss Nightingale valued his friendship greatly, 
and appointed him a member of the Council of the Nightingale Fund. 


We liave been since to Sir William Heathcote's to meet the 
Ashburtons. I wish you had been there for the sake of the 
pictures, and also for the sake of the artistical dinner which, even 
I became aware, was such a dinner and such plate as has seldom 
blessed my housekeeping eyes. The Palmerstons, too, have 
had down all their pictures from London — such a Rembrandt, 
Pilate washing his hands. Lord Ashburton does not look much 
hke a settler of a Boundary question.^ She is an American, 
and we swore eternal friendship upon Boston ; I having, you 
know, much curious information to give lier upon that city and 
its inhabitants. She had a raspberry-tart of diamonds upon 
her forehead worth seeing. Then Mesmerism, and when we 
parted, we had got up so high into Vestiges ^ that I could not get 
down again, and was obliged to go off as an angel. The Ash- 
burtons were the only people asked to meet the Queen at 
Strathfieldsaye (of her society). It was the most entire crash 
ever heard of, and the not asking the Palmerstons considered 
almost a personal insult ; but they say the old Duke now cares 
for nothing but flattery, and asks nobody but masters of hounds. 
He almost ill-treated the Speaker. After dinner, they all stood 
at ease about the drawing-room, and behaved like so many 
soldiers on parade. The Queen did her very best to enliven the 
gloom, but was at last over-powered by numbers, gagged, and 
her hands tied. The only amusement was seeing Albert taught 
to miss at billiards. 

Florence's remark that she would only provide the zero 
of esprit to Miss Clarke's quatre, is by no means to be taken 
literally. She was attractive, and she attracted both men 
and women. She talked well, and often laid herself out to 
interest her companions, and sometimes confounded them with 
learning. In 1844 Julia Ward Howe was in England with her 
husband, Dr. Howe, and they visited the Nightingales at 
Embley. " Florence," writes Mrs. Howe in her reminis- 
cences, " was rather elegant than beautiful ; she was tall 
and graceful of figure, her countenance mobile and expres- 
sive, her conversation most interesting." ^ A reminiscence 
of a later date records an encounter with Sir Henry de la 

^ A reference to the " Ashburton Treaty " concluded at Washington in 
1842. Alexander Baring, first Baron Ashburton, was the English com- 

* Vestiges of Creation, by Robert Chambers, had been published in the 
preceding year (1844). 

* Reminiscences, iSig-iSgg, by Julia Ward Howe, 1900, p. 138. 


Beche, the pioneer of the Geological Map of England. 
Warrenton Smythe and Sir Henry dined at Mr. Nightingale's, 
and Florence sat between them. " She began by drawing 
Sir Henry out on geology, and charmed him by the boldness 
and breadth of her views, which were not common then. 
She accidentally proceeded into regions of Latin and Greek, 
and then our geologist had to get out of it. She was fresh 
from Egypt, and began talking with W. Smythe about the 
inscriptions, etc., where he thought he could do pretty well ; 
but when she began quoting Lepsius, which she had been 
studying in the original, he was in the same case as Sir 
Henry. When the ladies left the room. Sir Henry said to 
Smythe, ' A capital young lady that, if she hadn't floored 
me with her Latin and Greek.' " ^ "I have been dowager- 
ing out with Papa," wrote Florence to Miss Clarke (March 
1843), " in the big coach to a formal dinner-party, where, 
however, Mr. Gerard Noel and I were very thick, he inquiring 
tenderly after you and your whereabouts." 

Of Miss Nightingale's personal appearance in early 
womanhood, there are pen-pictures by very competent 
hands. Lady Lovelace, in her verses entitled A Portrait, 
Taken from Life, emphasises a certain spiritual aloofness in 
her friend : — 

I saw her pass, and paused to think ! 

She moves as one on whom to gaze 
With calm and holy thoughts, that link 

The soul to God in prayer and praise. 
She walks as if on heaven's brink, 

Unscathed thro' hfe's entangled maze. 

I heard her soft and silver voice 

Take part in songs of harmony. 
Well framed to gladden and rejoice ; 

Whilst her ethereal melody 
Still kept my soul in wav'ring choice, 

'Twixt smiles and tears of ectasy. . . . 

I deem her fair, — yes, very fair ! 

Yet some there are who pass her by. 
Unmoved by all the graces there. 

Her face doth raise no burning sigh. 
Nor hath her slender form the glare 

Which strikes and rivets every eye. 

^ Caroline Fox, Memories of Old Friends, 1882, pp. 311-312. 


Her grave, but large and lucid eye, 

Unites a boundless depth of feeling 
With Truth's own bright transparency. 

Her singleness of heart reveahng ; 
But still her spirit's history 

From light and curious gaze concealing. . . . 

Mrs. Gaskell's picture in prose gives some lighter touches. 
" She is tall ; very straight and willowy in figure ; thick 
and shortish rich brown hair ; very delicate complexion ; 
grey eyes, which are generally pensive and drooping, but 
when they choose can be the merriest eyes I ever saw ; and 
perfect teeth, making her smile the sweetest I ever saw. 
Put a long piece of soft net, and tie it round this beautifully 
shaped head, so as to form a soft white framework for the 
full oval of her face (for she had the toothache, and so wore 
this little piece of drapery), and dress her up in black silk, 
high up to the long, white round throat, and with a black 
shawl on, and you may get near an idea of her perfect grace 
and lovely appearance. She is so like a saint." ^ She 
dressed becomingly ; but had a saint's carelessness in such 
things, somewhat to her elder sister's despair. " Make Flo 
wear her white silk frock to-night," she wrote on one occasion 
to her mother. Many years later, when stores and comforts 
were being sent out to the East under cover to the Lady-in- 
Chief, Lady Verney insinuated " one little gown for Flo," 
and who will not love her for it ? " When in 1849 she 
started to winter in the East, her mother says" — I quote 
again from Mrs. Gaskell — " they equipped her en princesse, 
and when she came back she had little besides the clothes 
she had on ; she had given away her hnen, etc., right and 
left to those who wanted it." 


Those who have social gifts often find sufficient happi- 
ness in their exercise ; but Florence, though she sometimes 
enjoyed the intercourse of intellectual society, reproached 
herself all the while for doing so. She felt increasingly that 
she had other gifts which were more properly hers, and that 

^ From a letter to Catherine Winkworth, written in 1854 ; for other 
passages in the letter, see pp. 8, 41, 139. 



the life of society was a distraction into the wrong path. 
She found even the London season more congenial than the 
life of the hospitable country-house. " People talk of 
London gaieties," she wrote to Miss Nicholson (" Aunt 
Hannah ") ; " but there you can at least have your mornings 
to yourself. To me the country is the place of ' row.' Since 
we came home in September, how long do you think we have 
been alone ? Not one fortnight. A country-house is the 
real place for dissipation. Sometimes I think that every- 
body is hard upon me, that to be for ever expected to be 
looking merry and saying something lively is more than 
can be asked mornings, noons, and nights." 

When she was alone with her parents and her sister, she 
hardly found the life at home more satisfying. This was 
partly, as she confessed in many a page of self-examination, 
the result of her own shortcomings. " Ask me," she wrote 
to " Aunt Hannah," "to do something for your sake, some- 
thing difficult, and you will see that I shall do it regularly, 
which is for me the most difficult thing of all." Let those 
who reproach themselves for a desultoriness, seemingly 
incurable, take heart again from the example of Florence 
Nightingale ! No self-reproach recurs more often in her 
private outpourings at this time than that of irregularity 
and even sloth. She found it difficult to rise early in the 
morning ; she prayed and wrestled to be delivered from 
desultory thoughts, from idle dreaming, from scrappiness in 
unselfish work. She wrestled, and she won. When her 
capacities had found full scope in congenial work, nothing 
was more fixed and noteworthy in her life and work than 
regularity, precision, method, persistence. But in part, 
the failings with which she reproached herself were the 
fault of her circumstances. The fact of the two country 
homes militated against steady work in either. Her 
parents were not, indeed, careless or thoughtless beyond 
others in their station, but rather the reverse. Mr. Nightin- 
gale was a careful landlord and zealous in county business, 
and his wife took some interest, as I have already said, in 
village schools and charities. But to Florence's parents, 
these things were rather graces rightly incidental to their 
station, than the main business of life. Florence's more 


eager temperament and larger capacity craved for greater 
consistency in the energies of life. She was expected to 
play the part of Lady Bountiful one day, and to be equally 
ready to play that of Lady Graceful the next. A friend who 
visited at Lea Hurst recalls how Florence would often be 
missing in the evening, and on search being made she would 
be found in the village, sitting by the bedside of some sick 
person, and saying she could not sit down to a grand seven 
o'clock dinner while this was going on.^ But by the time 
she had schooled herself to any regularity of work at Lea 
Hurst, the hour had come for moving to Embley. By the 
time she had settled down to work amongst her poor at 
Embley, the hour of the London season had struck. " I 
should be very glad," she wrote to her aunt from Embley, 
" if I could have been left here when they went to London, 
as there is so much to be done, but as that would not be 
heard of, London is really my place of rest." 

The companionship which Florence had at home was 
sometimes wearisome to her. The sisters, as we have already 
seen, were not in full sympathy. The parents were not un- 
intellectual persons, but, again, much the reverse. Mrs. 
Nightingale was a woman of bright intelligence, and of much 
social charm. Mr. Nightingale was a highly intellectual man, 
sensitive, too, and refined. He shot and hunted, but he 
was not ardently devoted to either sport, and was interested 
in many things. Perhaps in too many, and yet not enough 
in any. Florence Nightingale in her later years used some- 
times to describe with a twinkle of affectionate humour the 
routine of a morning in her home life as a girl. Mama, we 
may suppose, was busy with housekeeping cares. Papa 
was very fond of reading aloud, and in order to interest his 
daughters, would take them through the whole of The 
Times, with many a comment, no doubt, by the way. " Now, 
for Parthe," Miss Nightingale used to say, " the morning's 
reading did not matter ; she went on with her drawing ; 
but for me, who had no such cover, the thing was boring to 
desperation." " To be read aloud to," she wrote, " is the 
most miserable exercise of the human intellect. Or rather, 
is it any exercise at all ? It is like lying on one's back, with 

^ Letter of Mrs. Gaskell to Catherine Winkworth, Oct. 20, 1854. 


one's hands tied, and having Hquid poured down one's throat. 
Worse than that, because suffocation would immediately 
ensue, and put a stop to this operation. But no suffocation 
would stop the other." ^ As the younger daughter of a 
busily efficient mother, Florence was not often entrusted 
with household duties ; but on one occasion at any rate, she 
was left in command, and that, during the important season 
of jam-making. " My reign is now over," she wrote to her 
cousin Hilary, who was an art-student (Dec. 1845) ; " angels 
and ministers of grace defend me from another ! though I 
cannot but view my fifty-six pots with the proud satisfaction 
of an Artist, my head a little on one side, inspecting the 
happy effect of my works with more feeling of the Beautiful 
than Parthe ever had in hers." And even housekeeping 
brought obstinate questionings with it to Florence. She 
describes a bout of it on another occasion in a letter to 
Madame Mohl (July 1847) :— 

I am up to my chin in linen and glass, and I am very fond 
of housekeeping. In this too-highly-educated, too-little-active 
age it, at least, is a practical application of our theories to some- 
thing — and yet, in the middle of my Hsts, my green lists, brown 
lists, red lists, of all my instruments of the ornamental in culinary 
accomplishments which I cannot even divine the use of, I can- 
not help asking in my head, Can reasonable people want all 
this ? Is all that china, linen, glass necessary to make man a Pro- 
gressive animal ? Is it even good Political Economy (query, 
for "good," read " atheistical" Pol. Econ. ?) to invent wants in 
order to supply employment ? Or ought not, in these times, 
all expenditure to be reproductive ? " And a proper stupid 
answer you'll get," says the best Versailles service ; " so go and 
do your accounts ; there is one of us cracked." 


Florence was an affectionate and dutiful daughter. She 
obeyed and yielded for many years. She strove hard to 
think that her duty lay at home, and that the trivial round 
and common task would furnish all that she had any right, 
before God or man, to ask. But as the sense of a vocation 
elsewhere strengthened and deepened in her mind, she may 

^ Suggestions for Thought, vol. ji. p. 3S5. 


well have thought that, as her elder sister was contented to 
stay at home, a life of activity outside might for the other 
daughter not be inconsistent with affection for her parents. 
She had, indeed, intellectual interests of her own. She 
read a great deal in English, French, German ; in devotional 
works, in poetry, history, philosophy. And what she read 
she marked, and inwardly digested. A copy (unfortunately 
not complete) is preserved of the first edition of Browning's 
Paracelsus, which she annotated with remarks, paraphrases, 
and illustrative cases as she read. The first scene of the 
poem — " Paracelsus Aspires " — contains many a passage 
which aroused a sympathetic echo in her heart. The key- 
note is struck early. " Pursuing an aim not to be found in 
life," is her comment, " is its true misery." Then she kept 
commonplace-books, in which, under heads alphabetically 
arranged — such as Age of Reason, Bigotry, Creeds, Death, 
Education, and so forth — she copied out passages which 
struck her. She was accumulating stores of information 
and reflection. In some remarks upon Lacordaire in one of 
her note-books I find this passage copied out : — 

I desire for a considerable time only to lead a life of obscurity 
and toil, for the purpose of allowing whatever I may have received 
of God to ripen, and turning it some day to the glory of His Name. 
Nowadays people are too much in a hurry both to produce and 
consume themselves. It is only in retirement, in silence, in 
meditation, that are formed the men who are called to exercise 
an influence on society. 

For her own part, as her powers of reflection were 
strengthened, so did her sense of a vocation become more 
insistent with every year. In some autobiographical notes, 
Miss Nightingale records May 7, 1852, as the date at which 
she was conscious of " a call from God to be a saviour " ; 
but the thought of devoting herself to be a nurse came much 
earlier. Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, in the reminiscences quoted 
above, describes how during the visit of herself and her 
husband to Embley in 1844, Florence had taken Dr. Howe 
aside and asked him this question : " If I should determine 
to study nursing, and to devote my life to that profession, 
do you think it would be a dreadful thing ? " Dr. Howe, it 
will be remembered, was of wide repute as a philanthropist, 


and Miss Nightingale thought much of his opinion. It was 
favourable to her wish. " Not a dreadful thing at all," he 
replied ; "I think it would be a very good thing." " My 
idea of heaven," she wrote a little time afterwards, " is 
when my dear Aunt Hannah and I and my boy Shore and all 
of us shall be together, nursing the sick people who are left 
behind, and giving each other sympathies beside, and our 
Saviour in the midst of us, giving us strength." But, 
meanwhile, she hoped to realize some little piece of the 
heaven on earth. She pursued other inquiries, laid her 
plans, kept her own counsel, and then made a first bid for 
freedom. The nature of her plans, the nipping of them in 
the bud by maternal frost, and her following dejection are 
told in a letter to her cousin Hilary (Dec. ii, 1845) : — 

Well, my dearest, I am not yet come to the great thing I 
wanted to say. I have always found that there was so much 
truth in the suggestion that you must dig for hidden treasures 
in silence or you will not find it ; and so I dug after my poor 
little plan in silence, even from you. It was to go to be a nurse 
at Salisbury Hospital for these few months to learn the " prax." ; 
and then to come home and make such wondrous intimacies at 
West Wellow, under the shelter of a rhubarb powder and a 
dressed leg ; let alone that no one could ever say to me again, 
your health will not stand this or that. I saw a poor woman 
die before my eyes this summer because there was no one but 
fools to sit up with her, who poisoned her as much as if they 
had given her arsenic. And then I had such a fine plan for 
those dreaded latter days (which I have never dreaded), if I should 
outlive my immediate ties, of taking a small house in West 
Wellow. — Well, I do not Hke much talking about it, but I thought 
something like a Protestant Sisterhood, without vows, for women 
of educated feelings, might be established. But there have 
been difficulties about my very first step, which terrified Mama. 
I do not mean the physically revolting parts of a hospital, but 
things about the surgeons and nurses which you may guess. 
Even Mrs. Fowler ^ threw cold water upon it ; and nothing will be 
done this year at all events, and I do not believe — ever ; and no 
advantage that I see comes of my Uving on, excepting that one 
becomes less and less of a young lady every year, which is only 
a negative one. You will laugh, dear, at the whole plan, I 
daresay ; but no one but the mother of it knows how precious 

^ The wife of Dr. Richard Fowler, physician to the Sahsbury Infirmary, 
n.entioned above, p. 35. 


an infant idea becomes ; nor how the soul dies between the 
destruction of one and the taking up of another. I shall never 
do anything, and am worse than dust and nothing. I wonder 
if our Saviour were to walk the earth again, and I were to go to 
Him and ask, whether He would send me back to live this hfe 
again, which crushes me into vanity and deceit. Oh for some 
strong thing to sweep this loathsome Hfe into the past. 

And so ended for the time the dash of the caged bird 
for liberty. 



Though the outward man may perish, yet the inward man is renewed 
day by day. For our Ught affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh 
for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory ; while we look 
not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : 
for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not 
seen are eternal. — St. Paul. 

The failure of her plan left Florence in a state of great 
dejection. " The day of personal hopes and fears," she 
wrote, " is over for me. Now I dread and desire no more." 
This was but a passing mood ; and very soon, as we shall 
hear in the next chapter, she resumed, with increased deter- 
mination, her struggle for freedom and self-expression in a 
life of action. But for the moment, and at many recurring 
moments in later years, the dejection was intense. It was 
not merely the disappointment of an eager mind denied its 
appropriate energy ; it was the exceeding bitter cry of an 
intensely religious soul, tempted in its perplexity to ask, 
" My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me ? " 

In some autobiographical notes Miss Nightingale re- 
corded under the year 1843 " an illness and an acquaintance I 
made \vith a woman to whom all unseen things seemed real, 
and eternal things near, awakened me" [from dreaming]. 
The woman to whom she referred was, it may safely be con- 
jectured, Miss Hannah Nicholson. They met once or twice 
a year — when Miss Nicholson visited Embley or Miss Nightin- 
gale stayed with Miss Nicholson's brother at Waverley. At 
other times they exchanged a voluminous correspondence, 
and this was almost entirely devoted to religious experi- 


CH. Ill " AUNT HANNAH " 47 

ences and speculations. " Aunt Hannah " had inexhaustible 
sympathy with her self-torturing young friend. She did 
not chide or discourage Florence ; but the burden of her 
message was the claim of the spiritual life, the message of 
Paul to the Corinthians. " Your whole life," wrote Florence 
in one of many bursts of affectionate gratitude to Miss 
Nicholson, " seems to be love, and you always find words in 
your heart which, without the pretension of enlightening, 
yet are like a clearing up to me. You always seem to rest 
on the heart of the divine Teacher, and to participate in His 
mysteries." " Your letters," she said on another occasion, 
" stay by me and warm me when the dreams of life come 
one after another, clouding and covering the realities of the 
unseen." To this sympathetic and (in some limited respects) 
kindred soul, Florence poured out unreservedly the experi- 
ences of her spiritual life ; as also, sometimes, though with 
more conscious art of literary expression, to Miss Clarke in 


A few letters, selected from a great number, will serve 
to trace the course of her religious thoughts. They resumed, 
it will be seen, the spiritual experiences and convictions of 
the saints who have served mankind. The Reality of the 
Unseen World is the subject of a letter to Miss Clarke (August 
1846), in which, after a page of family news, she continues: — 

But I think you must be tired of all this, for I fancy that you 
live much more in the supernatural than the natural world. 
I always believe in Homer ; and in St. Paul's " cloud of wit- 
nesses " ; and in the old Italian pictures, which have a first 
story, where the Unseen live au premier, with a two-pair back, 
where the Pere Etemel's shadow is half seen peeping out, and a 
ground floor where poor mortals live, but still have a connexion 
with the establishment above stairs. I like those books, where 
the Invisible communicates freely with the Visible Kingdom ; 
not that they ever come up to one's idea, which is always so much 
brighter than the execution (for the word is only the shadow 
cast by the light of the thought) ; but they are suggestive. I 
always believe in a multitude of spirits inhabiting the same 
house with ourselves ; we are only the entresol, quite the most 
insignificant of its lodgers, and too busy with our pursuit of daily 


bread, too much confined with hard work, and too full of the 
struggle with the material world, to visit the glorious beings 
immediately about us — whom we shall see, when the present 
candle of our earthly reason is put out, which blinds us just as 
the candle end, left burning after one is in bed, long prevents 
us from seeing the world without, lit up by the full moon. It 
trembles and fhckers and sinks into its socket, and then we 
catch a bright stripe of moonhght shining on the floor ; but it 
flares up again, and the silvery stream is gone "as if it could 
not be, as if it had not been," and we can see nothing but the 
candle, and hardly imagine any other hght — till at last it goes 
quite out, and the flood of moonhght rushes into the room, and 
every pane of the casement window, and every ivy leaf without, 
are stamped, as it were, upon the floor, and a whole world revealed 
to us, which that flickering candle was the means of concealing 
from us. This is what Jesus Christ meant, I suppose, when He 
said that He must go away in order to be with His friends in His 
spirit, that He would be much nearer to them after death than 
in the flesh. In the flesh, we were separated from our friends 
by their going into the next room only — a door, a partition 
divided us ; but what can separate two souls ? Often I fancy 
that we can perceive the presence of a good spirit communicating 
thoughts to us : are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth 
to minister unto us ? When Jesus Christ warns us not to despise 
any one, because that in Heaven their angels do always behold 
the face of His Father, perhaps He thought that our beloved 
ones, who are gone, might be these our " angels," who must 
therefore have communion with men. 

It is here, where a cold and false life of conventionalism and 
prejudices and frivohty is often all that reaches our outward 
senses, that we are sometimes baffled in seeing into the life which 
lies beneath ; it is here, amidst the tempers and little vexations, 
which are the shadows that dim the brightest intercourse, it is 
here that we fail sometimes in having intimate communion with 
souls, and we stop short at the dead coverings ; but between the 
soul which is free, and our soul, what barrier, what restraint 
can there be ? Human sympathy is indeed necessary to our 
happiness of every moment, and the absence of it makes an awful 
void in our Hfe. Every room becomes a grave, and every book 
we used to read together a monument to the one we love. But 
some one says, that we need an idee merveilleuse to preserve us 
from the busy devils, which imagination here is always conjuring 
up. This idee merveilleuse, I think, is the idea of the loving 
presence of spirits. Those dear ones are safe, and yet with us 
still, for truly do I beheve that these senses of ours are what 
veil from us, not discover to us, the world around (which is 


sometimes revealed to us in dreams, or in moments of excitement, 
as at the point of death, either our own or a friend's, or by 
mesmerism, or by faith). Faith is the real eye and ear of the 
soul, and as it would be impossible to describe the harmony and 
melody of Music to one who was bom deaf, or to make a blind 
man perceive the beauty of the effects of colour, so without faith 
the spiritual world is as much a hidden one to the soul as the 
Art of Painting to the bhnd man. On a dark night the moon, 
when at last she rises, reveals to us, just at our feet, a world of 
objects, of the presence of which we were not aware before. We 
see the river sparkhng in the moonbeams close beside us, and 
the tall shadows sleeping quietly on the grass, and the sharp 
relief of the architectural cornices, and the strong outline of 
the lights and shades, so well defined that we can scarcely believe 
that a moment ago, and we did not see them. What shall we say 
if, one day, the moon rises upon our spiritual world, and we see 
close at hand, ready to hold the most intimate communion with 
us, those spirits, whom we had loved and mourned as lost to us ? 
We are like the blind men by the wayside, and ought to sit and 
cry. Lord that we may receive our sight ! And, when we do receive 
it, we shall perhaps find that we require no transporting into 
another world, to become aware of the immediate presence of 
an Infinite Spirit, and of other lesser ones whom we thought 
gone. What we require is sight, not change of place, I beheve. 

The struggle which absorbed Florence's mind and heart 
was to establish some harmony between her dealings in 
the world of sense and her communion with the unseen 
world. She reproached herself for impatience, for selfish- 
ness, for lack of confidence in the good time of God. Happy 
are they who have no more occasion than she to deem them- 
selves unprofitable servants ! But the condition of attain- 
ment to comparative sinlessness is, I suppose, the Conviction 
of Sin ; and this was intensely present to Florence Nightin- 
gale. " I have read over your letters many times again and 
again since I have been here," she wrote from Tapton (her 
grandmother Shore's house) in 1845. " Ah, my dear Aunt 
Hannah, you are like the white swan on your cool, fresh, 
blue lake, rocked to peace and rest by the sweet winds of 
your faith and love, and you cannot be dragged down into 
our busy chicken-yard of struggling, scratting life.^ You 
do not know what it is, when one has sinned with such 

^ The reader will note the recurrence here of some phrases already used 
in another letter. It is an instance of a point there noted (p. 28). 



aggravation as I have. No one has had such advantages, 
and I have sinned with all these, and after having been made 
to know what sin was, and what my obligations were. No 
one has so grieved the Holy Spirit. I have sinned against 
my conviction, and, as it were, standing before God's 
judgment-seat." In many of Miss Nightingale's religious 
outpourings, both in letters and in private diaries, there is 
a note which borders on the morbid ; but the danger- 
point is averted, sometimes by practical good sense, and 
sometimes by a saving sense of humour. The letter, just 
given, was soon followed by another (from Embley, Oct. 
1845), containing this account of a scene at the bedside 
of her favourite little cousin : — " One night when I was 
reading to Shore the verse about the temptations of the 
world, the flesh, and the devil, and we were agreeing that 
the temptations of the flesh were liking a great deal of play 
and no work, and lying long in bed, and the temptations of 
the world liking to be praised and admired, and be a general 
favourite, and so on, more than anything else, and we were 
both very much affected, he said before I left him, ' Now I 
may lie in bed to-morrow, and you won't call me at six, will 
you ? ' And I too went awa}^ to dream about a great many 
things which I had much better not think about. Oh, how 
I did laugh at the results of all our feelings ! To think and 
to be are two such different things ! " 

To bring thought and action into harmony, to make the 
presence of the Unseen a guide through the path of this 
present world : that is the problem of the practically re- 
ligious life. To Florence Nightingale, communion with the 
Unseen meant something deeper, richer, fuller, more positive 
than the fear of God. The fear of God is the beginning, 
but not the end, of wisdom, for perfect love casteth out fear. 
It was for the love of God as an active principle in her mind, 
constraining all her deeds, that she strove. When she was 
conscious of falling away from this grace, she knew the pains 
of hell, here and now, as the state of a soul in estrangement 
from the Eternal goodness : — 

{To Miss Nicholson.) Embley, Christmas Eve [undated]. 
Think of me to-morrow at the Sacrament. I have not taken it 
since I last took it with you, except once, with a poor woman 


on her death-bed. Time has sped wearily with me since then, 
Aunt Hannah. If, when the plough goes over the soul, there 
were always the hand of the Sower there to scatter the seed after 
it, who would regret ? But how often the seed-time has passed, 
it is too late, the harrow has gone over, the time of harvest has 
come and the harvest is not. . . . Give me your thoughts 
to-morrow, my dear Aunt Hannah ; I want them sadly ; and 
take me with you to the Throne of Grace. Bless me too, as poor 
Esau said. I have so felt with him, and cried with a great and 
exceeding bitter cry, Bless me, even me also, O my Father ; 
but He never has yet, and I have not deserved that He should. 

{To Miss Nicholson, May 1846.) " The sorrows of hell 
compassed me about." We learn to know what these are 
beforehand, when we cannot command our thoughts to pray, 
when all our omissions give themselves form and hfe, and shut 
us up within a wall over which there is no looking, no return : 
when they hold us down with a resistless power, and we are 
hemmed in with our remembrances, hke a cell compassing us 
about. What can the future hell be other than this ? The 
Unspeakable Presence may be joy and peace unspeakable, but 
it may be a Horror, a Dweller on our Threshold, a Spirit of Fear 
to the stricken conscience. Jesus Christ prayed on the Cross 
not for life or safety, but only for the hght of His countenance : 
Why hast Thou forsaken me ? And all sorrows disappear before 
that one. Let those who have felt it say if it is not so, and if 
there is any sorrow like unto that sorrow. How wilhngly 
would we exchange it for pain, which we almost welcome as a 
proof of His care and attention. Grief in itself is no evil ; as 
making the Unseen, the Eternal, and the Infinite present to 
our consciousness, it is rather a good. But when all one's 
imaginations are wandering out of one's reach, then one realizes 
the future state of punishment even in this world. Pray that 
He will not leave my soul in hell. How Uttle can be done under 
the spirit of fear ; it is the very sentence pronounced upon the 
serpent, " Upon thy belly shalt thou go all the days of thy life." 
Oh, if any one thinks that, in the repentance of fear, this is the 
time for the soul to open to the Infinite goodness, to the spirit 
of love and of power and of a sound mind, in the heart's death 
to live and love, — let him try how hard it is to collect oneself 
out of distraction — let him feel the woes of sajdng To-morrow, 
when God has said To-day ; and then when he has found how 
weary, stale, fiat, and unprofitable seem all the uses of the 
world, let him try with a dead heart to live unto God, to love 
with all his strength when all energy to love is gone. 

The state of perfect love, expressing itself in perfect 


Tightness of thought and deed, may be unattainable on 
earth, but nothing lower than the search for this ideal can 
satisfy the yearnings of a soul such as was Florence Night- 
ingale's. She had the Hunger for Righteousness. " The 
crown of righteousness ! " she wrote to Miss Nicholson (May 
1846). " That word always strikes me more than anything 
in the Bible. Strange that not happiness, not rest, not 
forgiveness, not glory, should have been the thought of 
that glorious man's mind, when at the eve of the last and 
greatest of his labours ; all desires so swallowed up in the 
one great craving after righteousness that, at the end of all 
his struggles, it was mightier within him than ever, mightier 
even than the desire of peace. How can people tell one to 
dwell within a good conscience, when the chief of all the 
apostles so panted after righteousness that he considered it 
the last best gift, unattainable on earth, to be bestowed 
in Heaven ? " 

To do All for the Love of God was the ideal which she 
sought to attain. " The foundation of all must be the love 
of God. That the sufferings of Christ's life were intense, 
who doubts ? but the happiness must also have been intense. 
Only think of the happiness of working, and working success- 
fully too, and with no doubts as to His path, and with no 
alloy of vanity or love of display or glory, but with the 
ecstasy of single-heartedness ! All that I do is always 
poisoned by the fear that I am not doing it in simplicity and 
godly sincerity." This was one of the constant dreads 
throughout her life. When she had become famous, and 
was praised and courted by the popular breath, she shrank, 
with an abhorrence which some may have considered almost 
morbid and which was certainly foreign to the fashion of 
the world, from any avoidable publicity. This was no pose 
or affectation ; it was part of her religion. It was a counsel 
dictated by her earnest striving to dissociate her work for 
God from any taint of worldliness. 


The world which came to owe much to the life and 
example of Florence Nightingale, owes something to Miss 


Nicholson, whose gentle sympathy brought to her young 
friend much strength and peace. But the world may also 
be glad, I think, that Miss Nightingale's religious thought 
worked itself out in the end on lines of her own. Florence 
Nightingale has been enrolled by the popular voice among 
the saints ; but there are saints and saints — saints con- 
templative or mystic, and saints active and ministering. 
In all ages of the world there have been godly women whose 
passion of religious spirit has led them to lives of professional 
pieties, rather than of practical service ; who have spent in 
ecstasies of pity, or in tortures of self-abasement at the foot 
of the Cross, powers which might have gone to redeem and 
save the world. Florence Nightingale had, as we have 
sufficiently seen, a profound sense of personal religion. She 
felt, as all the saints must feel, that a religious life means a 
state of the soul ; but she attained also to the conviction, 
which became ever stronger within her, that a state of the 
soul can only be approved by its fruits, and that thus the 
Service of God is the Service of Man : — 

{To Miss Nicholson.) Embley, Sept. 24, [1846]. I am 
almost heart-broken to leave Lea Hurst. There are so many 
duties there which lie near at hand, and I could be well content 
to do them there all the days of my life. I have left so many 
poor friends there whom I shall never see again, and so much 
might have been done for them. ... I feel my sympathies 
are with Ignorance and Poverty. The things which interest me 
interest them ; we are alike in expecting little from life, much 
from God ; we are taken up with the same objects. . . . My 
imagination is so filled with the misery of this world that the 
only thing in which to labour brings any return, seems to me 
helping and sympathizing there ; and all that poets sing of the 
glories of this world appears to me untrue : all the people I see 
are eaten up with care or poverty or disease. I know that it 
was God who created the good, and man the evil, which was 
not the will of God, but the necessary consequence of His leaving 
free-will to man. I know that misery is the alphabet of fire, 
in which history, with its warning hand, writes in flaming letters 
the consequences of Evil (the Kingdom of Man), and that without 
its glaring light, we should never see the path back into the 
Kingdom of God, or heed the directing guide-posts. But the 
judgments of nature (the law of God), as she goes her mighty, 
solemn, inflexible march, sweeps sometimes so fearfully over 


man that though it is the triumph, not the defeat of God's 
truth and of His laws, that falsehood against them must work 
misery, and misery is perhaps here the strongest proof that His 
loving hand is present, — yet all our powers, hopes, and fears 
must, it seems to me, be engrossed by doing His work for its 
relief. Life is no holiday game, nor is it a clever book, nor is it 
a school of instruction, nor a valley of tears ; but it is a hard 
fight, a struggle, a wrestling with the Principle of Evil, hand to 
hand, foot to foot. Every inch of the way must be disputed. 
The night is given us to take breath, to pray, to drink deep at 
the fountain of power. The day, to use the strength which has 
been given us, to go forth to work with it till the evening. The 
Kingdom of God is coming ; and " Thy Kingdom come " does 
not mean only " My salvation come." 

" To find out what we can do," she wrote as an annota- 
tion in Browning's Paracelsus, " one's individual place, as 
well as the General End, is man's task. To serve man for 
God's sake, not man's, will prevent failure from being 
disappointment." Florence Nightingale sought then to 
save her soul by serving others. 

It was by this same test of practical service that she 
came to try and to weigh the various forms of religious 
doctrine. Her father was, as I have said, a Unitarian, and 
several other members of her family circle were of the same 
persuasion. But she and some others of that circle con- 
formed in practice to the services of the English Church. 
And so, in some degree, Miss Nightingale continued to con- 
form to the end of her life ; though, as we shall find later 
on, she departed widely from the doctrines of the Church 
as ordinarily received, did not care about " going to church," 
and framed a creed of her own. But she always had a 
tolerant mind for any faith that issued in good works, and 
an impatience with any that did not. It is for this reason 
that she seemed to be all things to all men in religious 
matters. Her mission to the Crimea involved, as we shall 
learn, some religious bickerings. Protestants thought her 
too indulgent to Roman Catholics, and Catholics were sore 
that she did not go further with them. But her real attitude 
is perfectly clear, and was entirely consistent. If she looked 
with a favouring eye on Roman Catholics, it was on account, 
not of their dogmas, but of their deeds. Two letters to 


Madame Mohl, ten years apart in date, suggest what was 
always Miss Nightingale's point of view : — 

Lea Hurst, Sept. [1841]. We are very anxious to hear, 
dearest Miss Clarke, how you are going on, and how Mrs. Clarke 
is, some day when you are able to write. We are just returned 
from the Leeds Consecration, and a more curious or interesting 
sight I never saw. Imagine a procession of 400 clergj^- 
men, all in their white robes, with scarfs of blue and black and 
fur and even scarlet, so that I thought some of them were 
cardinals, headed by the Archbishop of York,i the Bishop of 
Ripon, &c., and most curious of all the Bishop of New Jersey 
to whom Dr. Hook (who is, — you know, perhaps, — the Puseyite 
vicar of Leeds) had written to ask him to come over from 
America, expressly to preach the consecration sermon. Imagine 
all this procession, entering the church, repeating the 24th 
Ps. — and then filling the space before the altar and the 
Transept — and all responding aloud through the service, so that 
the roll and echo of their responses through the Transept, without 
being able to see them, was the most striking thing I ever heard. 
It was quite a gathering-place for Puseyites from all parts of 
England. Papa heard them debating, whether they should 
have hghted candles before the Altar, but they decided no, 
because the Bishop of Ripon would not like it — however they 
had them in the evening and the next morning when he was 
gone — and Dr. Hook has the regular CathoUc jerk in making 
the genuflexion every time he approaches the altar. The church 
is a most magnificent one, and every one has contributed their 
best to it, with a true Catholic spirit ; one gave the beautiful 
painted window, another the Correggio for the Altar piece, 
the Queen Dowager the Altar-cloth, another the bells, &c., &c. 
Dr. Hook gives a service every morning and evening at 
I p. 7, and the Sacrament every Sunday ; and the aisle is all 
occupied by open seats. During the consecration I wished to 
have been a clergyman, but when Mrs. Gaskell ^ (whom I was with, 
she is a good Tory and half a Puseyite and withal the most 
general favourite and generally lenient person in England) — when 
she and I came down afterwards for the Sacrament, I could not 
help looldng in the faces of the clergymen, for the impression 
I expected to see, as they walked down the aisle, and wandered 
about, (this immense crowd) after the Sacrament — and oh ! 
I was woefully disappointed — they looked so stupid; and I 
could not help thinking. If you had been Cathohcs, you would 

^ Edward Vernon Harcourt. 
2 Nee Brandreth (not Mrs. Gaskell, the authoress). 


all have been on your knees during the service, without minding 
your fine gowns and the cold stones. 

Embley, Feb. 7 [1851]. ... I suppose you know how the 
two churches have been convulsing themselves in England in 
a manner discreditable to themselves and ridiculous to others. 
The Anglican Ch. screamed and struggled as if they were 
taking away something of hers, the Catholic Ch. sang and 
shouted as if she had conquered England — ^neither the one nor 
the other has happened. Only a good many people (in our 
Church) found out they were Cathohcs and went to Rome, 
and a good many other people found out they were Protestants, 
which they never knew before, and left the Puseyite pen, which 
has now lost half its sheep. At Oxford the Puseyite volcano 
is extinct. . . . You know what a row there will be this Session 
in Parliament about it. The most moderate wish for a Con- 
cordat, but even these say that we must strip the R.C. 
Bishops of their new titles. Many think the present Gov. 
will go out upon it, because they won't do enough to satisfy 
the awakened prejudices of dear John Bull. I used to think 
it was a mere selfish quarrel between red stockings and lawn 
sleeves ; but not a bit of it ; it's a real popular feeling. One 
would think that all our religion was political by the way we 
talk, and so I believe it is. From the rising of the sun until 
the going down of the same, you hear our clergy talking of 
nothing but Bishops versus Vicars General — never a word of 
different plans of education, prisons, penitentiaries, and so 
on. One would think we were born ready made as to education, 
but that Art made a Church. 

I feel little zeal in pulling down one Church or building up 
another, in making Bishops or unmaking them. If they would 
make us, our Faith would spring up of itself, and then we 
shouldn't want either Anglican Ch. or R.C. Church to make 
it for us. But, bless my soul, people are just as ignorant 
now of any law in the human mind as they were in 
Socrates' time. We have learnt the physical laws since then ; 
but mental laws — why, people don't even acknowledge their 
existence. They talk of grace and divine influence, — why, if 
it's an arbitrary gift from God, how unkind of Him not to give 
it before ! And if it comes by certain laws, why don't we find 
them out ? But people in England think it quite profane to 
talk of finding them out, and they pray " That it may please 
Thee to have mercy upon all men," when I should knock you 
down if you were to say to me " That it should please you to 
have mercy upon your boy." I never had any training; and 
training to be called " training," (as we train the fingers to play 


scales and shakes) — I doubt whether anybody ever gets from 
other people, because they don't know how to give it according 
to any certain laws. I wish everybody would write as far 
as they can A Short Account of God's Dealings with them, 
hke the old Puritans, and then perhaps we should find out at 
last what are God's ways in His goings on and what are not. 

Arthur Stanley (afterwards the Dean) once asked her 
to iise her influence in preventing a friend of his and of hers 
from taking the step, supposed to be imminent, of joining 
the Roman Communion. In a long reply which Miss 
Nightingale wrote with great care (Nov. 26, 1852), she 
promised to do what she could, but explained that this 
might not be much. She herself remained in the Anglican 
Communion " because she was born there," and because 
the Roman Church offered some things which she personally 
did not want. She feared their friend might consider 
that such arguments as she could urge against the Roman 
Church applied equally against the Anglican. And, on the 
other hand, she had never concealed her opinion that the 
Roman Communion offered advantages to women which 
the Church of England (at that time) did not. " The 
Catholic orders," she wrote, " offered me work, training 
for that work, sympathy and help in it, such as I had in vain 
sought in the Church of England. The Church of England 
has for men bishoprics, archbishoprics, and a little work 
(good men make a great deal for themselves). For women 
she has — what ? I had no taste for theological discoveries. 
I would have given her my head, my heart, my hand. She y 
would not have them. She did not know what to do with 
them. She told me to go back and do crochet in my mother's 
drawing-room ; or, if I were tired of that, to marry and 
look well at the head of my husband's table. You may go 
to the Sunday School, if you like it, she said. But she gave 
me no training even for that. She gave me neither work 
to do for her, nor education for it." 

The latter part of the second letter to Miss Clarke shows 
Miss Nightingale's interest in speculations about the basis 
of moral law ; but so far as the rivalry of Churches was 
concerned, it was by works that she tried them. " In all 
the dens of disgrace and disease," she wrote in one of her 

58 " WORKS, NOT DOCTRINES " pt. i 

note-books (1849), " ^^^ *^^ly clergy who deserve the name 
of pastors are the Roman Cathohc. The rest, of all de- 
nominations — Church of England, Church of Scotland, 
Dissenters — are only theology or tea mongers." " It will 
never do," she once said to a friend, " unless we have a 
Church of which the terms of membership shall be works, 
not doctrines." ^ 

She was interested, however, in doctrines also. If she 
was resolved to dedicate her life to the Service of Man, she 
was no less convinced that such service could only be ren- 
dered, at the best and highest, in the light, and with the 
sanction, of Service to God, Herein may be found an 
underlying unity and harmony through the many and 
diverse interests of her life. We shall see that she who 
opened new careers and standards of practical benevolence 
in the modern world, spent also years of thought upon the 
less manageable task, if not of providing the world with a 
new religion, at any rate of giving to old doctrines a new 
application, and, as she hoped, a more acceptable sanction. 

^ Life of Lord Houghton, by T. Wemyss Reid, vol. i. p. 524. 




There are Private Martyrs as well as burnt or drowned ones. Society 
of course does not know them ; and Family cannot, because our position 
to one another in our families is, and must be, hke that of the Moon to 
the Earth. The Moon revolves round her, moves with her, never leaves 
her. Yet the Earth never sees but one side of her ; the other side remains 
for ever unknown. — Florence Nightingale (in a Note-book of 1847-49). 

A POET of our time has counted " Disappointment's dry 
and bitter root " among the ingredients of " the right mother- 
milk to the tough hearts that pioneer their kind." If it 
indeed be so, Florence Nightingale was well nurtured. The 
spiritual experiences and speculations, recorded in the last 
chapter, worked round to a justification, as we have seen, 
of her chosen plan of life. Religion thus brought no con- 
solation for the failure of her scheme to escape in December 
1845. " My misery and vacuity afterwards," she wrote in 
an autobiographical retrospect, " were indescribable." " All 
my plans have been wrecked," she wrote at the time, " and 
my hopes destroyed, and yet without any visible, any 
material change." She faced the new year and its life on 
the old lines in a mood of depression which, with some 
happier intervals, was to grow deeper and more intense 
during the next few years. 

She did not, however, abandon her ideal. We shall 
see in subsequent chapters that neither foreign travel dis- 
tracted her from it, nor did opportunities for another kind 
of life allure her from the chosen path. The way was dark 



before her ; the goal might never be reached, she often 
thought, in this present sphere ; but she felt increasingly 
that only in a life of nursing or other service to the afflicted 
could her being find its end and scope. " The longer I live," 
she wrote in her diary (June 22, 1846), " the more I feel 
as if all my being was gradually drawing to one point, and 
if I could be permitted to return and accomplish that in 
another being, if I may not in this, I should need no other 
heaven. I could give up the hope of meeting and living 
with those I have loved (and nobody knows how I love) and 
been separated from here, if it would please God to give me, 
with a nearer consciousness of His Presence, the task of doing 
this in the real life." 

Meanwhile she pursued her inquiries. Now that the 
fruits of Florence Nightingale's pioneer work have been 
gathered, and that nursing is one of the recognized occupa- 
tions for gentlewomen, it is not altogether easy to realize 
the difficulties which stood in her way. The objections 
were moral and social, rooted to large measure in conven- 
tional ideas. Gentlewomen, it was felt, would be exposed, 
if not to danger and temptations, at least to undesirable 
and unfitting conditions. " It was as if I had wanted to be a 
kitchen-maid," she said in later years. Nothing is more 
tenacious than a social prejudice. But the prejudice was in 
part founded on very intelligible reasons, and in part was 
justified by the level of the nursing profession at the time. 
These are considerations to which full weight must be 
allowed, both in justice to those who opposed Miss Nightin- 
gale's plans, and in order to understand her own courage and 
persistence. The idea was widely prevalent at the time 
that for certain cases in hospital practice a modest woman 
was, from the nature of things, unsuited to act as a nurse. 
Mr. Nightingale, who desired to do what was right by his 
daughter, made many inquiries, and consulted many friends. 
There is a letter to him from a Brighton doctor arguing 
against the prevalent belief, and maintaining stoutly that 
" women of a proper age and character are not unfit for 
such cases. Age, habit, and office give the mind a different 
turn." But the whole of this letter shows a degree of broad- 
mindedness with regard to the education and sphere of 


women which was in advance of the average opinion at the 
time. And in any case, whether women were fit or unfit 
by nature, it was certain that many, perhaps most, of the 
women actually engaged in nursing were unfit by character, 
and that a refined gentlewoman, who joined the profession, 
might thus find herself in unpleasant surroundings. We 
shall have to consider this matter more fully in a subsequent 
chapter. Here it will suffice to say that though there were 
better-managed hospitals and worse-managed, yet there was 
a strong body of evidence to show that hospital nurses had 
opportunities, which they freely used, for putting the bottle 
to their lips " when so disposed," and that other evils were 
more or less prevalent also.^ Reports from Paris and its 
famous schools of medicine and surgery were no better. 
One who had been through it said that life at the " Mater- 
nite " was very coarse. In the cliniquc obstetricale at the 
Ecole de Medecin, " the eleves have the reputation of being 
pretty generally the students' mistresses." The difficulties 
in the way of a refined woman, who sought to obtain access 
to the best training, were very great. Dr. Elizabeth Black- 
well, a pioneer among woman-doctors in America, told Miss 
Nightingale of a young girl who had planned, as the only 
feasible way of studying surgery in Paris, to don male attire. 
" Pantaloons will be accepted as a token she is in earnest, 
while a petticoat is always a flag for intrigue. She has a 
deep voice, and I think will pass muster exceedingly well 
among a set of young students, but I shall be quite sorry for 
her to sacrifice a mass of beautiful dark auburn hair ! What 
a strange age we live in ! What singular sacrifices and 
extraordinary actions are required of us in the service of 
truth ! An age of reform is a stirring, exciting one, but it 
is not the most beautiful." The more she heard of the 
worst, the more was Florence Nightingale resolved to make 
things better ; but the more her parents heard, the greater 
and the more natural was their repugnance. Somebody 

^ See Miss Nightingale's letter, printed below (p. 117). Similarly she 
wrote to her father in 1854 (Feb. 22), that the head nurse in a certain 
London hospital told her that " in the course of her large experience she 
had never known a nurse who was not drunken, and that there was immoral ■ 
conduct practised in the very wards, of which she gave me some awful ', 


must do the rough pioneer work of the world ; but 
one can understand how the parents of an attractive 
daughter, for whom their own hfe at home seemed to 
them to open many possibilities of comfortable happiness, 
came to desire that in this case the somebody should be 
somebody else. 

Miss Nightingale herself was so much impressed by the 
difficulties and dangers in the way of women nurses, that she 
was inclined at first to the idea that the admission of gentle- 
women into the calling could best be secured, either in 
special hospitals connected with some religious institution, 
or in general hospitals under cover of some religious bond. 
" I think," wrote Monckton Milnes to his wife, " that 
Florence always much distrusted the Sisterhood matter," ^ 
and such was the case. Her inner thought was that no vow 
was needed other than the nurse's own fitness for the calling 
and devotion to it. But she was engaged in the crusade of a 
pioneer, and had to consider what was practically expedient 
and immediately feasible, as well as what was theoretically 
reasonable. Dr. Black well was of the same opinion. She 
did not like religious orders in themselves ; they only 
" become beautiful," she said, " as an expedient, a temporary 
condition, an antidote to present evils." Miss Nightingale 
was therefore intensely interested in the Institution for 
Deaconesses, with its hospital, school, and penitentiary, 
which a Protestant minister. Pastor Theodor Fliedner, had 
established some years before at Kaiserswerth. Her family 
were great friends with the Bunsens, and the Baron had sent 
Florence one of Pastor Fliedner' s Annual Reports.^ Her 
interest in it was twofold. It was the kind of institution to 
which Protestant mothers might not object to send their 
daughters. It was also in some sort a school of nursing 
where, whatever wider scope might afterwards be attainable, 
gentlewomen could serve an apprenticeship to the calling. 
" Flo," wrote her sister to a friend in 1848, " is exceedingly 

^ Life of Lord Houghton, vol. i. p. 524. 

* In many accounts of Kaiserswerth and of Florence Nightingale, it 
is stated that her knowledge of the Institution came from Elizabeth Fry. 
It was a pleasant temptation to establish such a link between these two 
famous women, but Mrs. Fry was dead (1845) before Miss Nightingale 
had ever heard, so far as her papers show, of Kaiserswerth. 


full of the Hospital Institutions of Germany, which she thinks 
so much better than ours. Do you know anything of the 
great establishment at Kaiserswerth, where the schools, the 
reform place for the wicked, and a great hospital are all under 
the guidance of the Deaconesses ? " Two years before (June 
1846) Florence herself had written to Miss Hilary Bonham 
Carter, begging her to ask Mrs. Jameson about " the German • 
lady she knew, who, not being a Catholic, could not take upon 
herself the vows of a Sister of Charity, but who obtained 
permission from the physician of the hospital of her town to 
attend the sick there, and perform all the duties which the 
Soeurs do at Dublin and the Hotel Dieu, and who had been | 
there fifteen years when Mrs. Jameson knew her. I do not 
want to know her name, if it is a secret ; but only if she has ^ 
extended it further into anything like a Protestant Sister-/ 
hood, if she had any plans of that sort which should embrace; 
women of an educated class, and not, as in England, merely 
women who would be servants if they were not nurses. How 
she disposed of the difficulties of surgeons making love to 
her, and of living with the women of indifferent character 
who generally make the nurses of hospitals, as it appears 
she was quite a young woman when she began, and these 
are the difficulties which vows remove which one sees nothing 
else can." Perhaps it was as a result of these inquiries that* 
Florence Nightingale became acquainted, through Baron 
von Bunsen, with the institution at Kaiserswerth ; though, 
as appears from a letter given below, Madame Mohl had 
also sent her some information about it. It is certain 
that by the autumn of 1846 she was in possession of its 
Reports, and that the place had become the home of her 
heart. During these years she was also quietly pursuing 
studies on medical and sanitary subjects. 


With such thoughts in her mind, the routine of home 
life became more than ever empty and distasteful. Here are 
two typical extracts from her diary of 1846 : — 

Lea Hurst, July 7. What is my business in this world and 
what have I done this last fortnight ? I have read the Daughter 


at Home ^ to Father and two chapters of Mackintosh ; a volume of 
Sybil to Mama. Learnt seven tunes by heart. Written various 
letters. Ridden with Papa. Paid eight visits. Done company. 
And that is all, 

Embley, Oct. 7. What have I done the last three months ? 

happy, happy six weeks at the Hurst, where (from July 15 
to Sept. i) I had found my business in this world. My heart 
was filled. My soul was at home. I wanted no other heaven. 
May God be thanked as He never yet has been thanked for 
that glimpse of what it is to live. Now for the last five weeks 
my business has been much harder. They don't know how 
weary this way of life is to me — this table d'hdte of people. . . . 
When I want Erfrischung 1 read a little of the Jahresberichte 
icber die Diakonissen-Anstalt in Kaiserswerth. There is my 
home ; there are my brothers and sisters all at work. There 
my heart is, and there I trust one day will be my body ; 
whether in this state or in the next, in Germany or in England, 

1 do not care. 

The " happy six weeks at Lea Hurst " were a time, as 
appears from the letter to Miss Nicholson already given 
(P- 53)' when she found opportunity to do much sick- 
visiting. " One's days pass away," she added in the same 
letter, " like a shadow, and leave not a trace behind. How 
we spend hours that are sacred in things that are profane, 
which we choose to call necessities, and then say ' We 
cannot ' to our Father's business." At Embley the oppor- 
tunities for work among the poor were less favourable. 
The distances were greater. Florence interested herself, 
so far as she was able, in the school at Wellow ; and amongst 
her papers of 1846 there is an able discussion of the defects 
of elementary education as she had there observed them. 
But the distractions were many. There was a constant 
round of company at home ; and, as has been said before, 
the migrations of the family between London, Lea Hurst, 
and Embley were fatal to concentration of effort. 


The year 1847 was one of much social movement in 
Miss Nightingale's life. In the spring she was in London 

^ See below, p. 94. 


" doing the exhibitions and hearing Jenny Lind ; but it 
really requires a new language to define her." Then she 
went with her parents to the meeting of the British Associa- 
tion at Oxford, where Adams and Leverrier, the twin dis- 
coverers of Neptune, were the lions of the day. She wrote 
many lively accounts of the meeting to her friends, from 
which a passage or two may be given : — 

Here we are in the midst of loveliness and learning ; for 
never anything so beautiful as this place is looking now, my 
dearest, have I seen abroad or at home, with its flowering acacias 
in the midst of its streets of palaces. I saunter about the church- 
yards and gardens by myself before breakfast, and wish I were 
a College man. I wish you could see the Astronomical Section — 
Leverrier and Adams sitting on either side of the President, 
like a pair of turtle-doves cooing at their joint star and holding 
it between them. . . . We work hard. Chapel at 8, to that 
glorious service at New College ; such an anthem yesterday 
morning ! and that quiet cloister where no one goes. I brought 
home a white rose to-day to dry in remembrance. Sections 
from II to 3. Then Colleges or Blenheim till dinner time. 
Then lecture at 8 in the Radcliffe Library. And philosopliical 
tea and muffins at somebody's afterwards. The Fowlers, 
Hamilton Grays, Barlows and selves are the muffins ; Wheat- 
stone, Hallam, Chevalier, Monckton Milnes and some of the 
great guns occasionally are the philosophy . . . 

and so forth, and so forth ; with particulars of " church 
every two hours " on Sunday, and of a luncheon with Buck- 
land and his famous menagerie at Christ Church, when 
Florence petted a little bear, and her father drew her away, 
but Mr. Milnes mesmerised it. " And one thing more," 
she adds ; " Mr. Hallam's discovery that Gladstone is the 
Beast 666 (in the Revelations) came to him one day by 
inspiration in the Athenaeum, after he had tried Pusey and 
Newman, and found that they wouldn't do." 

Miss Nightingale paid many visits during the same year 
with her father. They went, for instance, to Lord Sher- 
borne, whose daughter, Mrs. Plunkett, became a great friend 
of hers ; and they spent a couple of days with Lord Lovelace. 
Lady Lovelace, Byron's daughter, conceived a great admira- 
tion for Florence Nightingale, which found expression in 
the verses already quoted. It was in this year that Miss 


66 SAPPHO'S LEAP px. i 

Clarke married her old admirer, M. Mohl. Florence's letter 
of congratulation was not without significance upon the 
state of her own feelings, as will be seen in a later 
chapter : — 

Embley, October 13 [1847]. Dearest Friend — To think 
that you are now a two months' wife, and I have never written 
to tell you that your piece of news gave me more joy than I 
ever felt in all my Ufe, except once, no, not even excepting 
that once, because that was a game of Blind-man 's-Buff, — and 
in your case you knew even as you were known. I had the 
news on a Sunday from dear Ju, and it was indeed a Sunday 
joy and I kept it holy, though not like the city, which was to be 
in cotton to be looked at only on Sundays. As has often been 
said, we must all take Sappho's leap, one way or other, before 
we attain to her repose — though some take it to death, and 
some to marriage, and some again to a new life even in this 

Which of them to the better part, God only knows. 
Popular prejudice gives it in favour of marriage. Should we 
not look upon marriage, less as an absolute blessing, than as a 
remove into another and higher class of this great school-room — 
a promotion — for it is a promotion, which creates new duties, 
before which the coward sometimes shrinks, and gives new 
lessons, of more advanced knowledge, with more advanced 
powers to meet them, and a much clearer power of vision to 
read them. In your new development of hfe, I take, dearest 
friend, a right fervent interest, and bless you with a right heart- 
felt and earnest love. 

We are only just returned to Embley, after having passed 
through London, on our way from Derbyshire. News have I 
none, excepting iinancial, for no one could talk of anything in 
London excepting the horrid quantity of failures in the City, by 
which aU England has suffered more or less. Why didn't I write 
before ? Because I thought you would rather be let alone at 
first and that you were on your travels. 

And now for my confessions. I utterly abjure, I entirely 
renounce and abhor, all that I may have said about M. Robert 
Mohl, not because he is now your brother-in-law, but because 
I was so moved and touched by the letters which he wrote after 
your marriage to Mama ; so anxious they were to know more 
about you, so absorbed in the subject, so eager to prove to us 
that his brother was such a man, he was quite sure to make you 

And I have not said half enough either upon that score, 
not anything that I feel ; how " to marry " is no impersonal 


verb, upon which I am to congratulate you, but depends entirely 
upon the Accusative Case which it governs, upon which I do 
wish you heartfelt and trusting joy. In single hfe the stage 
of the Present and the Outward World is so filled with phantoms, 
the phantoms, not unreal tho' intangible, of Vague Remorse, 
Tears, dwelhng on the threshold of every thing we undertake 
alone, Dissatisfaction with what is, and Restless Yearnings for 
what is not, cravings after a world of wonders (which is, but is 
like the chariot and horses of fire, which Ehsha's frightened 
servant could not see, till his eyes were opened) — the stage of 
actual Hfe gets so filled with these that we are almost pushed 
off the boards and are conscious of only just holding on to the 
foot lights by our chins, yet even in that very inconvenient 
position love still precedes joy, as in St. Paul's list, for love laying 
to sleep these phantoms (by assuring us of a love so great that 
we may lay aside all care for our own happiness, not because it is 
of no consequence to us, whether we are happy or not, as Carlyle 
says, but because it is of so much consequence to another) gives 
that leisure frame to our mind, which opens it at once to joy. 

But how impertinently I ramble on — " You see a penitent 
before you," don't say " I see an impudent scoundrel before me " — 
But when thou seest, and what's more, when thou readest, 
forgive. — You will not let another year pass without our seeing 
you. M. Mohl gives us hopes, in his letter to Ju, that you won't, 
that you will come to England next year for many months, then, 
dearest friend, we will have a long talk out. If not, we really 
must come to Paris — and then I shall see you, and see the 
Deaconesses too, whom you so kindly wrote to me about, but 
of whom I have never heard half enough. . . . 

The Bracebridges are at home — she rejoiced as much as we 
did over your event — Parthe is going at the end of November 
to do Officiating Verger to a friend of ours on a like event. — Her 
prospects are hkewise so satisfactory, that I can rejoice and 
sympathize under any form she may choose to marry in. Other- 
wise I think that the day will come, when it will surprise us 
as much, to see people dressing up for a marriage, as it would to 
see them put on a fine coat for the Sacrament. Why should 
the Sacrament or Oath of Marriage be less sacred than any other ? 

The letter goes on to speak of a visit recently paid to Mrs. 
Archer Clive, well known in her day as the authoress of 
Poems by V. and of Paul F err oil, a sensational novel of some 
force, — a lady whose powers of heart and mind were housed 
in an infirm body. Miss Nightingale admired her talents 
and her character, and valued her friendship. 


But new friendships and varied interests did not bring 
satisfaction to Miss Nightingale. She was still constantly 
bent on pursuing a vocation of her own. Her parents 
caught eageriy at an opportunity which offered itself at 
the end of this year (1847), for giving, as they hoped, a new 
turn to her thoughts. 


Six months of Rome and happiness. — Florence Nightingale (i 

It was an event of some importance in the Nightingale 
family when Florence set out with Mr. and Mrs. Bracebridge, 
in the autumn of 1847, ^^ spend the winter at Rome. The 
attraction to her was the society of Mrs. Bracebridge, the 
friend of whom she spoke as " her Ithuriel." Moreover 
the mental unrest from which Florence constantly suffered 
at home was beginning to tell upon her health. " All that 
I want to do in life," she wrote to her cousin Hilary, in ex- 
plaining the motive of the tour, " depends upon my health, 
which, I am told, a winter in Rome will establish for ever." 
She took the foreign tour as a tonic to enable her the better 
to fulfil her vocation. By her parents and her sister the 
tour was regarded as a tonic which might divert her from it. 
They hoped that foreign travel would distract her thoughts, 
and dispel what they perhaps considered morbid fancies. 
She would enjoy pleasant companionship. She would see 
famous and beautiful things. She might return converted 
to the more comfortable belief that her duty lay in accepting 
life as she found it. The point of view comes out clearly 
enough in a letter from her sister to Miss Bonham Carter : — 

Embley, October [1847]. It is a very great pleasure to 
think of her with such a companion, one who, she says, lives 
always with the best part of her ; one who has all the sense 
and discretion and the warm-hearted sympathy and the quick 
enjoyment and the taste and the affection which will most give 
her happiness ; who will value her and take care of her, and do 


70 WINTER IN ROME : 1847-8 pt. i 

her all the good mentally and bodily one can fancy. Yes, dear, 
God is very good to provide such a pleasant time, and it will 
rest her mind, I think, entirely from wearing thoughts that all 
men have at home when their duties weigh much on their 
consciences, while she wiU feel she is wasting nothing ; for Mrs. 
Bracebridge has not been at all well and Flo wiU feel herself a 
comfort and a help to her, I hope, for I know she is a great 
one. . . . Though it is but for so short a time, yet it seems to 
me a great event, the solemn first launching her into Hfe, and 
my heart is very full of many feehngs, but yet the joy is greatest 
by an incalculable deal, for one does not see how harm can come 
to her. Yet when one loves a great deal, one cannot but be a 
httle anxious, ... It is so pretty to see Papa wandering over 
the big map of Rome remembering every comer, and Mama 
over Piranesi, and both over all the fair things that dwell there 
as the' they had just left them. 

And Florence herself did find comfort and pleasure in 
the tour ; but it was destined not to divert, but to strengthen, 
her purpose, as also to lay a train of circumstances which 
was to lead her to the Crimea. 

Florence and her companions reached Paris on October 
27, took ship at Marseilles for Civita Vecchia, and stayed in 
Rome — in the Via S. Bastinello (No. 8) — from the beginning 
of November till March 29, 1848. Florence entered heartily 
into all the pursuits and occupations of elegant tourists in 
Rome, She studied the ruins ; explored the catacombs ; 
copied inscriptions ; visited the churches and galleries ; 
spent a morning in Gibson's studio and another in Over- 
beck's ; collected plants in the Colosseum ; rode in the 
Campagna, and bought brooches, mosaics, and Roman 
pearls. Her father had drawn out a programme of famous 
sights and pretty walks and drives ; and the methodical 
Florence duly ticked them off on the list. She read her own 
thoughts and aspirations into many of the works of art. 
She greatly admired the Apollo Belvedere, seeing in it the 
type of triumphant Free Will. " We can never lose the 
recollection of our poor selves while we still do things with 
difficulty, while we are still uncertain whether we shall 
succeed or not. The triumph of success may be great and 


delightful, but the divine life — eternal life — is when to will 
is to do, when the will is the same thing as the act, and 
therefore the act is unconscious." Of the Jupiter of the 
Capitol, again, she says : " Jupiter is that perfect grace in 
power where the divine Will, pure from exertion, speaks, and 
It is done." But what chiefly interested her, what really 
impressed her mind and stimulated her imagination, was 
the genius of Michael Angelo : — 

{To her Sister.) December ly [1847]. Oh, my dearest, I 
have had such a day — my red Dominical, my Golden Letter, 
the 15th of December is its name, and of all my days in Rome 
this has been the most happy and glorious. Think of a day 
alone in the Sistine Chapel with 2 [Selina, Mrs. Bracebridge], 
quite alone, without custode, without visitors, looking up into 
that heaven of angels and prophets. ... I did not think that 
I was looking at pictures, but straight into Heaven itself, and 
that the faults of the representation and the blackening of the 
colours were the dimness of my own earthly vision, which would 
only allow me to see obscurely, indistinctly, what was there 
in all its glory to be known even as I w^as known, if mortal eyes 
and understandings were cleared from the mists wliich we have 
wilfully thrown around them. There is Daniel, opening his 
windows and praying to the God of his Fathers three times a day 
in defiance of fear. You see that young and noble head like 
an eagle's, disdaining danger, those glorious eyes undazzled by 
all the honours of Babylon. Then comes Isaiah, but he is so 
divine that there is nothing but his own 53rd chapter will describe 
him. He is the Isaiah, the " grosse Unbekannte " of the Comfort 
ye, Comfort ye my people. I was rather startled at first by 
finding him so young, which was not my idea of him at all, 
while the others are old. But M. Angelo knew him better ; 
it is the perpetual youth of inspiration, the vigour and freshness, 
ever new, ever living, of that eternal spring of thought which 
is typed under that youthful face. Genius has no age, while 
mind (Zechariah) has no youth. Next to Isaiah comes the 
Delphic Sibyl, the most beautiful, the most inspired of all the 
Sibyls here ; but the distinction which M. Angelo has drawn 
even between her and the Prophets is so interesting. There is 
a security of inspiration about Isaiah ; he is listening and he is 
speaking ; " that which we hear we declare unto you." There is 
an anxiety, an effort to hear even, about the Delphian ; she is 
not quite sure ; there is an uncertainty, a wistfulness in her 
eyes ; she expects to be rewarded rather in another stage than 
this for her struggle to gain the prize of her high calling, to reach 


to the Unknown that Isaiah knows already. There is no un- 
certainty as to her feeling of being called to hear the voice, but 
she fears that her earthly ears are heavy and gross, and corrupt 
the meaning of the heavenly words. I cannot tell you how 
affecting this anxious look of her far-reaching eyes is to the 
poor mortals standing on the pavement below, while the Prophets 
ride secure on the storm of Inspiration, ... I feel these things 
to be part of the word of God, of the ladder to Heaven. The 
word of God is all by which He reveals His thought, all by 
which He makes a manifestation of Himself to men. It is 
not to be narrowed and confined to one book, or one nation ; 
and no one can have seen the Sistine without feeling that he 
has been very near to God, that he will understand some of His 
words better for ever after ; and that Michael Angelo, one of 
the greatest of the sons of men, when one looks at the dome 
of St. Peter's on the one hand and the prophets and martyrs 
on the other, has received as much of the breath of God, and 
has done as much to communicate it to men, as any Seer of old. 
He has performed that wonderful miracle of giving form to the 
breath of God, wonderful whether it is done by words, colours, 
or hard stones. . . . 

The thoughts and emotions which have been suggested 
by the contemplation of the vault of the Sistine Chapel are 
countless. None are more enthusiastic than those which it 
inspired in Florence Nightingale, and few have been so 
discriminating. It is at once the privilege and a mark of 
consummate works of art to be capable of as many meanings 
as they may find of competent spectators. Each man brings 
to the study of them the insight of which he is capable ; and 
each, perchance, finds in them some image of himself or of 
his own experience. " There are few moments, most prob- 
ably," Florence Nightingale went on to say, " which we 
shall carry with us through the gate of Death, few recollec- 
tions which will stand the Eternal Light." She felt as she 
came out of the Sistine Chapel that her first sight of Michael 
Angelo's stupendous work would be one of those few for 
her. We may surmise that the wistful uncertainty which 
she found in the face of the Delphic Sibyl had especially 
appealed to her in its truth to life as she had experienced it ; 
conscious as she was of a call from God, conscious also as 
she could not but have been of great powers, and yet doubt- 
ful whether on this side of the gate of Death it would be 


given to her to inteq^ret the Divine voice aright. She 
retained to the end of her Hfe the same reverential feeUng 
for Michael Angelo. She had photographs and engravings 
of the Sistine ceiling hanging in her rooms, and she sent 
some framed and inscribed photographs of the symbolical 
figures on the Medici tombs to hang at Embley on the little 
private staircase, where her father fell and died. Those at 
her home were bequeathed specifically in her Will. 

The afternoon of the day on which the revelation of the 
Sistine Chapel came to her was spent by Florence and her 
friend in walking up the Monte Mario, to enjoy the famous 
view from the Villa Mellini, not then, as now, included 
within a fort : — 

"We spent an exquisite half-hour," she wrote, "mooning, 
or rather sunning about ; the whole Campagna and city lying 
at our feet, the sea on one side hke a golden laver below the 
declining sun, the windings of the Tiber and the hills of Lucretilis 
on the other, with Frascati, Tivoli, Tusculum on their cypress 
sides, for in that clear atmosphere you could see the very cypresses 
of Maecenas' villa at Tivoli ; with long stripes of violet and 
pomegranate coloured light sweeping over the plain like waves ; 
one stone pine upon the edge of our Mellini hill ; and Rome, 
the fallen Babylon, like a dead city beneath, no sound of multi- 
tudes ascending, but the only life these great crimson lights 
and shadows (for here the shadow of a red light is violet) like 
the carnation-coloured wings of angels, themselves invisible, 
flapping over the plain and leaving this place behind them. 
We rushed down as fast as we could for the sun was setting, and 
we reached St. Peter's just as the doors were going to close. 
We had the great Church all to ourselves, the tomb of St. Peter 
wreathed with lights. It felt like the times when a Christian 
knight watched by his arms before some great enterprise at 
the Holy Sepulchre ; and one shadowy white angel we could 
see through the windows over the great door ; and do you 
know he quite made us start as he stood there in the gloaming. 
Of course it was the marble statue on the fagade ; and there 
were workmen still laughing and talking at the extreme end, 
and their sounds, as they were repeated under the long vaults, 
were like the gibbering of devils, and their lanthorns, as they 
wavered along close to the ground, were hke corpse-Ughts. I 
thought of St. Anthony and holy knights and their temptations. 
And at last the Sacristan took us out of that vast solemn dome 
through a tomh ! and we ghded into the silvery moonlight, and 
walked home over Ponte St. Angelo, where I made a Httle 


invocation to St. Michael to help me to thank; for why the 
Protestants should shut themselves out, in solitary pride, from 
the Communion of Saints in heaven and in earth, I never could 
understand. And so ended this glorious day." 

The obsession of Rome, which sooner or later comes upon 
every intelligent visitor to the Eternal City, dated in the 
case of Florence Nightingale from this golden-letter day. 
She surmounted the sense of confusion which sometimes 
oppresses the traveller. " I do not feel," she wrote, " though 
Pagan in the morning, Jew in the afternoon, and Christian in 
the evening, anything but a unity of interest in all these 
representations. To know God we must study Him as much 
in the Pagan and Jewish dispensations as in the Christian 
(though that is the last and most perfect manifestation) , and 
this gives unity to the whole — one continuous thread of 
interest to all these pearls." 


The politics of modern Italy interested her no less than 
the ruins of ancient Rome or the monuments of mediaeval 
art. She had met many Italian refugees, both at Geneva 
and in the salon of Madame Mohl in Paris, and was a whole- 
hearted enthusiast in the cause of Italian freedom. Her 
present visit to Rome synchronized with that curious and 
short-lived episode in the struggle during which Pio Nono 
was playing " the ineffectual tragedy of Liberal Catholicism." 
All Rome seemed seized with sympathy for the cities beyond 
the Papal states, which were fighting for liberty, and within 
the states themselves Pio Nono's offerings of mild benevol- 
ence sufficed to call forth " floods of ecstatic, demonstrative 
Italian humanity, torchlight processions, and crowds kneel- 
ing at his feet." i Miss Nightingale saw the Roman nobles, 
Prince Corsini, Prince Gaetano, and others, presiding at 
" patriotic altars," which had been set up in the public 
squares for the receipt of gifts in money and in jewellery. 
She heard the famous Father Gavazzi preach the crusade 
in the Colosseum. She cheered as the Tricolor of Italy was 
hoisted on the Capitol. " I certainly was born," she wrote 

^ G. M. Trevelyan, Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic, p. 65. 


to her cousin Hilary, " to be a tag-rag-and-bob-tail, for 
when I hear of a popular demonstration, I am nothing better 
than a ragamuffin." She heard the rumble of a distant drum, 
and rushed up for Mr. Bracebridge, and he and she broke 
their own windows because they were not illuminated ; 
stayed to see the torchlight procession of patriots singing 
the hymn to Pio Nono, and were rewarded by the crowd 
crying " God save the Queen," as they passed the English 
" milord " and his companion. " Very touching," she said ; 
" though royalty was the very last thing I was thinking of " ; 
for at this time, as she often avowed in her letters, her 
sympathies were Republican. " When this memorable 
year began with all its revolutions," she wrote later to 
Madame Mohl, after disillusion had come (June 27), "I 
thought that it was the Kingdom of Heaven coming under 
the fate of a Republic. But alas ! things have shown that 
more of us must slowly ripen to angels here, before the 
regime of the angels, i.e. the Kingdom of Heaven, will begin." 
But for the moment everything seemed radiant. She 
recorded with pleasure in February that a deputation of 
Romans had gone up to the Pope to express their " complete 
confidence in him." In her note-books she collected par- 
ticulars of his life and character ; and when in March he 
granted what can only be called a sort of a Constitution, she 
wrote to Madame Mohl : " My dear Santo Padre seems 
doing very well. He has given up his Temporal Power. 
No man took it from him ; he laid it down of himself. I 
think that he will reign in history as the only prince who 
ever did, and that his character is nearer Christ's than any 
I ever heard of." History will hardly confirm this saying ; 
but if Miss Nightingale's words seem ill-balanced in the light 
of subsequent events, let it be remembered that, as Mr. 
Trevelyan says, " the cult of Pio Nono was for some months 
the religion of Italy, and of Liberals and exiles all over the 
world. Even Garibaldi in Monte Video, and Mazzini in 
London, shared the enthusiasm of the hour." A year later, 
when the Roman Republic had been declared and the Pope 
had fled, and the French troops besieged Rome on his be- 
half, Miss Nightingale had only pity for Pio Nono ; her 
anger she reserved for the French " cannibals," for the one 


Republic that was devouring another. " I must exhale my 
rage and indignation," she wrote in a diary (June 30, 1849), 
" before I have lost all notions of absolute right and wrong. 
It makes my heart bleed that the French nation, the nation 
above all others capable of an ideal, of aspiring after the 
abstract right, should have lent itself to such a brutal crime 
against its own brother — one may say its own offspring, 
for the Roman Republic sprang from the French ; it is 
purest cannibalism ; this breaks my heart. When I think 
of that afternoon at Villa Mellini (now occupied by a French 
general) , of Rome, bathed in her crimson and purple shadows, 
lying at our feet, and St. Michael spreading his wings over 
all — the Angel of Regeneration as we thought him then — 
my eyes fill with tears. But he will be the Angel of Re- 
generation yet." The French, she said, might reduce the 
city and occupy it ; but the heroic defence of the Republic 
/" will have raised the Romans in the moral scale, and in their 
own esteem." They would never sink back to what they 
had been. Sooner or later, Rome would be free. She was 
especially indignant at the talk which she heard on all sides 
in cultivated society at home about the " vandalism " of 
the Romans in exposing their precious monuments of art 
to assault. She loved those monuments, as we have seen ; 
but if the defence of Rome against the French required it, 
she would have been ready to see them all levelled to the 
ground. " They must carry out their defence to the last," 
she cried. " I should like to see them fight the streets, 
inch by inch, till the last man dies at his barricade, till 
St. Peter's is level with the ground, till the Vatican is blown 
into the air. Then would this be the last of such brutal, 
not house-breakings, but city-breakings ; then, and not till 
then, would Europe do justice to France as a thief and a 
murderer, and a similar crime be rendered impossible for 
all ages. If I were in Rome, I should be the first to fire the 
Sistine, turning my head aside, and Michael Angelo would 
cry, ' Well done,' as he saw his work destroyed." It was 
not only in relation to the restraints of conventional domes- 
ticity that Florence Nightingale was a rebel. 



During her o^vn stay in Rome, however, there was some- 
thing which interested her more than Roman pohtics or 
Roman monuments. It was the philanthropic work of a 
Convent School. Every visitor to Rome knows the Trinita 
de' Monti. The flight of steps between the church and the 
Piazza di Spagna is celebrated alike for its own beauty 
and for the flower-girls and women in peasant-costume 
who frequent it. The church itself contains many fine 
works of art, and the choral service is one of the attrac- 
tions of ecclesiastical Rome. The neighbourhood is rich in 
artistic and literary associations. Florence Nightingale had 
sympathetic eyes and ears for all these things ; but what 
attracted her most was the convent attached to the church, 
with its school for girls, and (in another part of the city) its 
orphanage. She was broad-minded, as we have seen in an 
earlier chapter, in relation to church creeds. It was by 
works, not faith, or at any rate by faith issuing in works, 
that she weighed the churches. It was characteristic of 
the thoroughness of her mental character that during this 
sojourn in Rome she made a methodical study of Roman 
doctrine and ritual. Among her papers and note-books 
belonging to this time, there are careful analyses of the 
theory of Indulgence, of the Real Presence, of the Rosary, 
and so forth. She made, too, a careful collation of the 
Latin Breviary with the English Prayer-Book. She summed 
up her comparative study of the churches in this generaliza- 
tion : 'I The great merit of the Catholic Church : its assertion 
of the truth that God still inspires mankind as much as ever. 
Its great fault : its limiting this inspiration to itself. The 
great merit of Protestantism : its proclamation of freedom 
of conscience within the limits of the Scriptures. Its great 
fault : its erection of the Bible into a master of the soul." 
Her deep sense of the self-responsibility of every human soul 
kept her free from any inclination to Roman doctrine ; but , 
she was profoundly impressed by the practical beneficence j 
of Roman sisterhoods. An example of such beneficence 
she found in the school and orphanage of the Dames 


du Sacre Cceur. She had picked up a poor girl called 
Felicetta Sensi, and procured her admission as a free boarder, 
paying for her care and education for many years. She 
formed a warm attachment to the Lady Superior, the Madre 
Sta. Colomba. She studied the organization, rules, and 
methods of the large school, and for ten days she went into 
Retreat in the Convent. ^ Her intercourse with the Madre 
Sta. Colomba, of whose talk and spiritual experiences she 
made full and detailed notes, made a very deep impression on 
her mind. She studied rules and organization, but, as in 
all her studies, she was seeking a motive, as well as, and 
indeed more than, a method. Many years later, a friend 
wrote to her : "It seems to me that the greatest want 
among nurses is devotion. I use the word in a very wide 
sense, meaning that state of mind in which the current of 
desire is flowing towards one high end. This does not pre- 
suppose knowledge, but it very soon attains it." ^ This was 
a profound conviction of her own, often expressed, as we 
shall hear, in her Addresses and Letters of Exhortation in 
later years. What she set herself to study at the Trinita de' 
Monti was the secret of devotion. She made notes of the 
Lady Superior's exhortations ; of the spiritual exercises 
which were enjoined upon novices ; of the forms and dis- 
cipline of self-examination. She sought to extract the 
secret, and to apply it to the inculcation of the highest 
kind of service to man as the service of God. For many 
years the thought in her mind was to be the foundation 
of some distinctive order or sisterhood ; and though 
in the end she came to be glad that she had not done 
this, she never abandoned the high ideal which was behind 
her thought. Nor, though in some ways and in some cases 
she came to be disillusioned about nursing sisterhoods, did 
she ever cease to speak with admiration of what she had 
seen and learnt in some of them. She thought more often, 
and with more affectionate remembrance, about the spirit 

^ The Convent was giving hospitality at this time to the Abbess of 
Minsk (in Lithuania), whose persecution by the Russian Government 
formed the subject of much debate. Miss Nightingale wrote a long 
account of the extraordinary adventures which the Abbess related to her. 
She was advised in 1853 to print this, but I cannot find that she did so. 

^ Letter from R. Angus Smith, July 7, 1859. 


of the best Catholic sisterhoods than of Kaiserswerth, or 
indeed of anything else in her professional experience. 

In such studies upon the Trinita de' Monti in the winter 
of 1847-48, she was taken, as she said in a note of self- 
examination, out of all interests that fostered her " vanity " ; 
it was her " happiest New Year." " The most entire and 
unbroken freedom from dreaming I ever had," she wrote 
at a later time. " Oh, how happy I was ! " And so again, 
looking back after twenty years, she wrote : "I never en- 
joyed any time in my life so much as my time at Rome." ^ 


Another incident of Miss Nightingale's sojourn in Rome 
was destined, though she knew it not at the time, to have a 
far-reaching influence upon her career. Among the English 
visitors who spent the winter of 1847-48 in Rome were Mr. 
and Mrs. Sidney Herbert. Mr. Herbert had already been 
Secretary at War under Peel, a post to which he was after- 
wards to return under Aberdeen. The resignation of Peel's 
Cabinet in 1846 released Mr. Herbert from official work. 
Later in the year he married a lady with whom he had 
been long acquainted, Elizabeth a Court, daughter of 
General Charles Ashe a Court ; and in the following year he 
and his wife set out for a long Continental tour. Mr. and 
Mrs. Bracebridge were friends of the Herberts, and thus 
Florence Nightingale made their acquaintance in Rome. 
In her retrospect she specially recalled the beginning there 
of her friendship with Sidney Herbert " under the dear 
Bracebridges' wing." Compatriots who meet in this way 
in any foreign resort are apt to see a good deal of 
each other, and from this winter dates the beginning 
of a friendship which was to be a governing factor in 
the life of Florence Nightingale. Sidney Herbert, when 
they met in galleries or at soirees, or rode together in 
the Campagna, must have been struck by Miss Nightin- 
gale's marked abilities, and for Mrs. Herbert she formed 
an affectionate attachment. She noted " the great kind- 
ness, the desire of love, the magnanimous generosity " 

^ Letter to M. Mohl, Nov, 21, 1869. 


of her new friend. Mr. and Mrs. Herbert saw much of 
Archdeacon Manning (the future cardinal), who was also 
spending the winter in Rome, and Miss Nightingale was on 
friendly terms with him.^ This also was an acquaintance 
which had some influence on her future career. Sidney 
Herbert, aided by the ready sympathy of his wife, was 
devoting much thought, now liberated from official duties, 
to schemes of benevolence among the poor on his estates. 
" He felt strongly the disadvantage at which the poor were 
placed in being compelled after illness, and perhaps after 
undergoing painful operations, to return in the earliest 
stage of convalescence, without rest or change, to their 
accustomed labour." ^ He was full of a scheme for a Con- 
valescent Home and Cottage Hospital (such as is now no 
rarity, but was then almost unknown) , and it can be imagined 
with what zest Miss Nightingale shared his thoughts. One 
of the first things which she records in her diary after return 
from the Continent is "an expedition with Mrs. Sidney 
Herbert to set up her Convalescent Home at Charmouth " ; 
but this was only a passing incident, and return to the 
habitual home life, after the distraction of foreign travel, 
left her no more contented than before. 

On her return to London in the early summer of 1848 
she sent her friends occasionally the talk of the town : — 

{To Madame Mohl.) July 26 [1848]. In London there have 
been the usual amount of Charity Balls, Charity Concerts, 
Charity Bazaars, whereby people bamboozle their consciences 
and shut their eyes. Nevertheless there does not seem the 
slightest prospect of a revolution here. Why, would be hard to 
say, as England is surely the country where luxury has reached 
its height and poverty its depth. Perhaps it is our Poor Law, 
perhaps the strength of our Middle Class, perhaps a greater degree 
of sympathy between the rich and poor, which is the conservative 
principle. Lord Ashley had a Chartist deputation with him the 
other day, who stayed to tea and talked with him for five hours. 
" That a man should ride in a carriage and have twenty thou- 
sand a year is contrary to the laws of Nature," said their leader, 
and slapped his leg. " I could show you, if you would go with 
me to-night," said Lord Ashley, " people who would say to you, 

^ Purcell's Life of Manning, vol. i. p. 362. 
^ Sidney Herbert : a Memoir, by Lord Stanmore, vol. i. pp. 97-98. 


that a man should go in broadcloth and wear a shirt-pin (pointing 
to the Chartist's shirt) is contrary to the laws of Nature." The 
Chartist was silent. " And it was the only thing I said," says 
Lord Ashley, " after arguing with them for live hours which 
made the least impression." 

Her acquaintance with Lord Ashley (afterwards Lord 
Shaftesbury) brought her in touch with Ragged School work. 
But society grew more and more distasteful to Miss 
Nightingale. She explained the reasons in a letter to her 
" Aunt Hannah." Why could she not smile and be gay, 
while yet biding her time and not forsaking her ultimate 
ideals ? It was, she said, because she " hated God to hear 
her laugh, as if she had not repented of her sin." There is 
something obviously morbid in such words, and they might 
be multiplied indefinitely, if there were good reason for 
doing so, from her letters, diaries, and note-books. The sins 
of which she most often convicted herself were " hypocrisy " 
and " vanity." She prayed to be delivered from " the 
desire of producing an effect." That was the " vanity " ; 
and it was " hypocrisy," because she was playing a part, 
responding to friends' conception of her, though all the while 
her heart was really set on other things, and her true life 
was being lived elsewhere. The morbidness was a symptom 
of a mind at war with its surroundings. Then again the 
kind "Aunt " reminded her, in the spirit of George Herbert, 
that anything and everything may be done " to the glory 
of God." But Miss Nightingale at this time was deep in the 
study of political economy ; and " can it be to the glory 
of God," she asked, " when there is so much misery among 
the poor, which we might be curing instead of living in 
luxury ? " 

In the autumn of 1848 an opportunity occurred which 
promised the realization of the dearest wish of her heart, 
but once more she was doomed to disappointment. Her 
mother and sister had been advised to go to Carlsbad for 
the cure. M. and Madame Mohl were to be at Frankfurt, 
and they were all to meet in that city. Frankfurt is near 



to Kaiserswerth, and Florence was to be allowed to go there. 
But at the very moment disturbances broke out in Frank- 
furt, and the whole plan was abandoned. " I am not going 
to consign to paper for your benefit," she wrote to Madame 
Mohl (October 1848), " all the cursings and swearings which 
relieved my disappointed feelings ; for oh ! what a plan of 
plans I had made out for myself ! All that I most wanted 
to do at Kaiserswerth, Brussels, and Co., lay for the first 
time within reach of my mouth, and the ripe plum has 
dropped." Florence accompanied her mother to the cure 
at Malvern instead, where, with many prayers for humility 
under the will of God, she lived for several weeks upon the 
dry and bitter fruit of disappointment. During the winter 
of 1848-49 Miss Nightingale saw something of M. Guizot 
and his family. The Minister had escaped to London after 
the fall of Louis Philippe, and was living in a modest house 
in Brompton. He found in Miss Nightingale " a brave 
and sympathetic soul, for whom great thoughts and great 
devotions had a serious attraction." ^ 

During the next year she found some congenial work in 
London. She inspected hospitals. She worked in Ragged 
Schools. She spoke of her " little thieves at Westminster " 
as her " greatest joy in London." But these unconventional 
attractions of the London season set her all the more against 
the life of country houses. " Ought not one's externals," 
she wrote in her diary (July 2, 1849), " ^0 be as nearly as 
possible an incarnation of what life really is ? Life is not 
a green pasture and a still water, as our homes make it. Life 
is to some a forty days' fasting, moral or physical, in the 
wilderness ; to some it is a fainting under the carrying of 
the crop ; to some it is a crucifixion ; to all, a struggle for 
truth, for safety. Life is seen in a much truer form in 
London than in the country. In an English country place 
everything that is painful is so carefully removed out of 
sight, behind those fine trees, to a village three miles off. 
In London, at all events if you open your eyes, you cannot 
help seeing in the next street that life is not as it has been 
made to you. You cannot get out of a carriage at a party 

^ See the " Lettre de M. Guizot " prefixed to the French translation of 
Notes on Nursing (1862). 


without seeing what is in the faces making the lane on 
either side, and without feehng tempted to rush back and 
say, ' Those are my brothers and sisters.' " She longed to 
rush back, to be able to go out freely into the slums, to 
comfort some old woman who was dying unattended, or 
rescue some child who was going astray untaught. But 
the proprieties prevented. " It would never do," she was 
told, "for a young woman in her station in life to go out 
in London without a servant." In the autumn of 1849 ^^e 
distraction of another foreign tour was offered. Her parents 
and her sister hoped once more that Florence would return 
a different and a more comfortable woman. Those with 
whom we are cast into the nearest intimacy sometimes 
understand us least. 



( I 849-1 850) 

When o'er the world we range 
'Tis but our climate, not our mind, we change. 


In the autumn of 1849 ^^r. and Mrs. Bracebridge, who were 
to spend some months in the East, again proposed that 
Miss Nightingale should travel with them, and again the 
offer was gladly accepted. Her sister was delighted. The 
expedition to Rome had not done what was hoped, but 
here was a second chance. The sister reported to her friends 
that " Flo had taken tea with the Bunsens to receive the 
dernier mot on Eg5^tology," and that she was going out 
" laden with learned books." Perhaps Florence would 
become absorbed in such studies, and adopt a life of grace- 
fully learned leisure. The literary temptation did, it is 
true, assail Florence, but she put it behind her. 

The party started in October, bound for Egypt, where 
the winter was to be spent. Thence they were to proceed 
to Athens, where Mr. Bracebridge had property. The 
return journey in the summer of 1850 was to be made 
through Germany, and Kaiserswerth was to be visited. 
Florence, we may surmise, looked forward most to the last 
stage in the journey. On November 18 the travellers landed 
at Alexandria. On the 27th they reached Cairo. On 
December 4 they started in a dahabiah for the Nile voyage. 
The boat was christened in honour of Florence's sister. 


CH. VI TOUR IN EGYPT : 1849-50 85 

" My work," she wrote, " is making the pennant, blue 
bunting with swallow tail, a Latin red cross upon it, and 
IIAPQENOIIH in white tape. It has taken all my tape, 
and a vast amount of stitches, but it will be the finest 
pennant on the river, and my petticoats will joyfully 
acknowledge the tribute to sisterly affection, for sisterly 
affection in tape in Lower Egypt, let me observe, is 
worth having." They went up the river as far as Ipsambul 
(Abu-Simbel), a little below Wady Halfy ; on the return 
journey they spent several days at Thebes. The letters 
which Florence sent home show that Egypt appealed 
strongly to her imagination. What struck her most was 
the solemnity of the country. " Nothing ever laughs or 
plays. Everything is grown up and grown old." The 
letters are full too of Egyptology ; for she had made tables 
of dynasties, copied plans of temples, and analysed the 
leading ideas in Egyptian mythology as expounded by the 
best writers of the time : — 

Abu-Simbel, January ly [1850]. ... I passed through 
other halls, till at last I found myself in a chamber in the rock, 
where sat, in the silence of an eternal night, four figures against 
the further end. I could see nothing more ; yet I did not feel 
afraid as I did at Karnak, though I was quite alone in these 
subterranean halls ; for the sublime expression of that judge 
of the dead had looked down on me, the incarnation of the 
goodness of the deity, as Osiris is ; and I thought how beautiful 
the idea which placed him in the foremost hall, and then led 
the worshipper gradually on to the more awful attributes of 
the deity ; for here, as I could dimly see through the darkness, 
sat the creative power of the mind — Neph, " the intellect " ; 
Amun, " the concealed god " ; Phthah, " the creator of the 
visible world " ; and Ra, " the sustainer," Ra, " the sun " to 
whom the temple is dedicated. ... I turned to go out, and 
saw at the further end the golden sand ghttering in the sunshine 
outside the top of the door ; and the long sand-hill, sloping 
down from it to the feet of the innermost Osirides, which are 
left quite free, all but their pedestals, looked Hke the waves of 
time, gradually flowing in and covering up these imperishable 
genii, who have seen three thousand years pass over their heads 
and heed them not. In the holiest place, there where no sound 
ever reaches, it is as if you felt the sensible progress of time, 
not by the tick of a clock, as we measure time, but by some 
spiritual pulse which marks to you its onward march, not by 


its second, nor its minute, nor its hour-hand, but by its century 
hand, I thought of the worshippers of three thousand years 
ago ; how they by this time have reached the goal of spiritual 
ambition, have brought all their thoughts to serve God or the 
ideal of goodness ; how we stand there with the same goal before 
us, only as distant as the star, which, a httle later, I saw rising 
exactly over that same sand-hill in the centre of the top of the 
doorway, but as sure and fixed ; how to them all other thoughts 
are now as nothing, and the ideal we all pursue of happiness is 
won ; not because they have not probably sufferings, like ours, 
but because they no longer suggest any other thought but of 
doing God's will, which is happiness. I thought, too, three 
thousand years hence, we might perhaps have attained — and 
others would stand here, and still those old gods would be sitting 
in the eternal twihght. . . . 

Thebes, February lo [1850]. . . . The Valley of the Kings 
seems, though within a mile of Thebes, as if one had arrived at 
the mountains of Kaf, beyond which are only " creatures un- 
known to any but God," — so deep are the ravines, so high and 
blue the sky, so absolutely solitary and unearthly, so utterly 
uninhabitable the place. One look at that valley would give 
you more idea of the supernatural, the gate of Hades, than all 
the descriptions, sacred or profane. What a moment it is, the 
entering that valley, where in those rocky caverns, the vastness 
and the gloomy darkness of which are equally awful, the kings 
of the earth lie, each in his huge sarcophagus, with the bodies 
of his chiefs, each in their chamber, about him ; and where, 
about this time, they are to return, to find their bodies and 
resume their abode on earth, — if purified by their three thousand 
years of probation, in a higher and better state ; if degraded, 
in a lower. I thought I met them at every turn in those long 
subterraneous galleries, — saw their shades rising from their 
shattered sarcophagi, and advancing once more towards the 
light of day, which shone hke a star, so distant and so faint, 
at the end of that opening ; the dead were stirred up, the chief 
ones of the earth. . , . Well, these Pharaohs are perhaps now 
here, again in the body, their three thousand years having just 
elapsed to some of them, — that is, if they have philosophized 
sincerely, or, together with philosophy, have " loved beautiful 
forms." . . . And if I were a Pharaoh now, I would choose 
the Arab form, and come back to help these poor people ; and 
I am going to-morrow to a tomb of Rameses, B.C. 1150, to meet 
him and tell him so. . . . 

It was no wonder that Miss Nightingale pitied the poor " TO HELP THESE POOR PEOPLE " 87 

people ; for the Egypt in which she travelled was as Mehemet 
Ali, the Lion of the Levant, had left it. She saw girls sold 
in the open slave market " at from £2 to £9 a head." She 
heard how justice was sold to the highest bidder ; and 
" everybody," she noted, " seems to bastinado everybody 
else." " Every man," she noted further, " is a conscript 
for the army, and mothers put out their children's right eye 
to save them from conscription, till Mehemet Ali, who was 
too clever for them, had a one-eyed regiment, who carried 
the musket on the left shoulder." Miss Nightingale was 
fond of escaping from the dahabiah in order to wander 
about the desert, " poking my own nose," as she wrote home, 
" into all the villages," and seeing for herself how " these 
poor people " lived. " They call me ' the wild ass of the 
wilderness, snufhng up the wind,' because I am so fond of 
getting away." Egyptian impressions stayed long in her 
memory, and they recurred to her thirty years later in con- 
nection with her Indian studies.^ As on her earlier visit to 
Rome, so now in Egypt she utilized all such opportunities 
as came in her way for studying the work of religious Sister- 
hoods. At Alexandria she passed her days, she wrote, 
" much to my satisfaction, as I had travelled with two 
Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul from Paris to Auxerre, who 
gave me an introduction to the Sisters here ; and I have 
spent a great deal of time with them in their beautiful 
schools and Misericorde. There are only 19 of them, but 
they seem to do the work of 90." 


In April 1850 Miss Nightingale went with her friends to 
Athens. Their house was in Eucharis Street, and Florence 
" slept in the library, which opens on to a terrace looking 

^ E.g. in an article in Good Words, August 1879 : " Whoever in the 
glorious light of an Egyptian sunset — where all glows with colour, not 
like that of birds and flowers, but like transparent emeralds and sapphires 
and rubies and amethysts, the gold and jewels and precious stones of the 
Revelations — has seen the herds wending their way home on the plain of 
Thebes by the colossal pair of sitting statues, followed by the stately woman 
in her one draped garment, plying her distafE, a naked, lovely little brown 
child riding on her shoulder, and another on a buffalo, can conjure up 
something of the ideal of the ryot's family life in India." 


upon the back of the AcropoHs." She had Httle taste for 
the topographical research and nice distinctions between 
different masters of sculpture which absorb the interest 
of many modern travellers and students. She was interested 
in broader speculations. The soul of a people, as expressed 
in their art, was the object to which she directed her observa- 
tion, and around which she loved to let her imagination play. 
In her note-books and letters she discusses the spiritual 
conceptions embodied in the worship of the several Greek 
gods ; she traces the symbols of Greek mythology to their 
sources in Greek scenery ; she pictures the genius of Aes- 
chylus (her favourite tragedian, preferred by her even to 
Shakespeare) or of Sophocles developing in relation to local 
conditions and surroundings. Of the statues, the pensive 
beauty of the sepulchral bas-reliefs most arrested her atten- 
tion ; and in architecture, she loved most the Doric, for 
its severity, its simplicity, its perfection of proportion, its 
image of the ideal republic : — 

Only a republican could have conceived it, and it is sin for 
any other government to imitate it. Look at each column 
— man, I mean — rearing its noble head ; yet none has a separate 
base. Each man stands upon the common base of his country. 
Look at the simplicity of the fluting of the capital. No man 
thinks of his own adornment, but only of the glory of the whole. 
The fluting does not look like its ornament, but its drapery. 
I do love the old Doric as if it was a person. Then comes the 
Ionic, light and elegant and airy, it is true, like the Attic wit, 
but somewhat luscious to the taste ; it soon palls ; the fluting is 
too laboured, too semicircular, like the people sitting in a semi- 
circle to hear the wit of Aristophanes ; it does not look as if it 
belonged to the column ; and that ridge between the flutes, what 
is it doing there ? It looks like the interval while the next inter- 
locutor is thinking of a repartee. Then that rich beading round 
the base, like one of Euripides' choruses which have nothing to do 
with the piece. Give me the Ionic to amuse me, but the Doric 
to interest me. The Corinthian is like the worship of Dionysus, 
like the illustration of Nature by Art — a bad conjunction, I think, 
which in any other hands would become Art run mad, but modified 
by the exquisite artistic perceptions of the Greeks is exquisitely 
beautiful, but it is not architecture. The Doric, the Ionic, and 
the Corinthian are the ethical, the poetical, and the aesthetic 
views of Ufe. But look at the workmanship of these things. 
How mathematically exact it is — the very poetry of number. 


It was characteristic of the philosophical bent of her 
mind that she sought to refer the charm of the scenery to 
some general law : — 

Athens, June 8. I have been taking some lovely rides 
with Mr. Hill on Hymettus, along the Daphne road, and to Kara. 
How lovely the scenery is, would be difficult to describe, and why 
it is so lovely. I begin to think that it is the proportion, and 
that there must be proportion in the things of Nature as of Art. 
I am talking nonsense, I believe, but nobody minds me, you 
know. In the valleys of Switzerland the height is too great 
for the width, and it looks like a bottle. In the valleys of Egypt 
the width is too great for the height, and it looks like a tray. 
For this reason clouds are provided in Switzerland and Scotland ; 
the height would become intolerably out of proportion unless 
it were covered in at the top. For this reason clear sky is in 
Egjrpt, or you would feel in a shelf. But here, where the clear 
sky is meant, they say, to be perpetual (tho' I cannot say 
I have seen much of it since I came), the proportion observed 
has been perfect, the exact curve is always there, the exact 
slope which you want ; and if a line were to change its place, you 
feel the effect would be spoilt. You feel towards it as to an archi- 
tectural building. I believe that in this lies the great peculiarity 
of the Athenian views. Otherwise, for colouring, I must de- 
clare I have seen nothing like the evenings of the Campagna. 

Of the Parthenon by moonlight she wrote that it was 
" impossible that earth or heaven could produce anything 
more beautiful." In other letters she dwells on the beauty 
of the view from Lycabettus, and the glory of the sunset 
from Hymettus. One day upon the Acropolis she found 
some boys with a baby owl that had just fallen from its 
nest in the Parthenon. She bought it from them and kept 
it. It used to travel in her pocket, and lived at Embley. 


Public affairs in Greece interested her also. She had 
arrived in Greek waters at the height of the " Pacifico crisis." 
There had been a rupture between England and Greece, 
which threatened also the relations between England and 
France, and which convulsed political parties at West- 
minster, over the claims of Mr. Finlay, the historian of 
modern Greece, and Don Pacifico, a native of Gibraltar. 

90 GREEK POLITICS : 1850 pt. i 

Lord Palmerston had ordered the Mediterranean Fleet to 
the Peiraeus to enforce the British claims, and Miss Nightin- 
gale was sitting beside Mr. Wyse, the British Minister at 
Athens, at dinner on board H.M.S. Howe, when the sub- 
mission of the Greek Government was brought to him. 
Her home letters throw much light on the ins and outs of 
this affair, which, however, is now only remembered as the 
occasion of Lord Palmerston's vindication in the House of 
Commons with its famous peroration about Civis Romanus 
sum. Miss Nightingale now, as earlier, was a strong 
Palmerstonian. " The friends of Broadlands," she wrote 
to her parents, " need never have been less uneasy for his 
reputation " ; and if parliamentary success be a sufficient 
test, she was entirely right. She found herself again in the 
thick of political discussion on leaving Greek waters. Her 
party sailed from Athens on June 17, and went to Trieste 
by Corfu — " that fairy island," she wrote, " where every 
flower grows twice as big as it does anywhere else, and 
where no frost can touch the olive and the pomegranate." 
She and her parents were acquainted with Sir Henry Ward, 
then Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. Sir 
Henry, who had been an active Liberal at home, had felt 
himself obliged to adopt sternly repressive measures in the 
islands. Miss Nightingale was opposed to his policy, as 
also to the British occupation. He invited her and her 
friends to the Palace. She went to proffer excuses. " He 
came out, said that I had often called him ' Tyrant,' and 
took me in his arms like a father, and stood over me in the 
character of Tyrant (he said) till I had written a letter 
compelling them all to come, which he then sealed and I 
sent. So the whole posse comitatus of us spent the day 
there, they sending the carriage for us, and I am really glad 
to have seen what is my idea of Eastern luxury." The 
tyrant placed his accuser next to him at dinner, deplored 
his " false position," and so forth, and they made some sort 
of peace ; though not perhaps till Miss Nightingale had 
sought to bring him to a conviction of sin for his executions 
and arbitrary arrests, for she was armed, as her letters 
show, now as ever, with all the facts and figures marshalled 
in Blue-book precision. 



Her mind was interested in all these things, but her 
heart was elsewhere. " WTierever thou art," said a famous 
statesman, " it is with the poor that thou should'st live." 
It was so with Florence Nightingale's inmost thoughts. Her 
greatest pleasure in Athens was found in the society of the 
American missionaries, Mr. and Mrs. Hill, who conducted 
a school and orphanage. Of Mrs. Hill she wrote, " From 
heaven she comes, in heaven she lives." In charge of the 
mission school was a Greek refugee from Crete, Elizabeth 
Kontaxaki, and with her too Florence Nightingale formed 
a warm friendship. Elizabeth had lived an adventurous 
life before she found security at Athens. Her father had 
fallen by a Turkish bullet. Her mother had made an heroic 
escape from a Turkish captor, and the first years of the 
child's life were spent in the fastnesses of Mount Ida. 
" Alas," wrote Miss Nightingale, " how worthless my hfe 
seems to me by the side of these women." A mood of great 
dejection appears in her diary of this time, to which an 
attack of low-fever no doubt contributed. She could not 
find satisfaction in the interests of foreign travel. She was 
tortured by unsatisfied longings which could find outlet 
only in a world of dreams. An entry in her diary for June 7 
is in these words : " Grotto of the Eumenides. Will this 
Fury go on increasing till by degrees my mind is more and 
more taken off the outer world with all its claims, and I am 
no longer able to command my attention at all ? " 

Miss Nightingale and her friends landed at Trieste at 
the end of June, and thence made their way to Dresden 
and Berlin. The pictures which most impressed her were 
Raphael's " Sistine Madonna " and the " Reading Mag- 
dalen," then attributed to Correggio. A year later her 
mother and sister were at Dresden, and she enjoined them, 
above all things, to see " the Magdalen, the queen of pic- 
tures." " How I feel that picture now," she wrote to them 
(August 26, 1851), " dark wood behind, sharp stones in 
front, nothing to look back upon, nothing to look forward 
to, clinging to the present as she does to the book, which 


beams bright light upon me. Oh what a history that 
picture contains in its httle canvass ; and how well it hangs 
near that glorious Sistine Virgin. All that woman might 
be, all that she will be, near what she is ; for it is not a 
Magdalen, in the common sense of the word, or rather it is 
in the common sense of what woman commonly is — not 
what we mean by a Magdalen." At Dresden Miss Nightin- 
gale was still in much dejection. " I have never felt so 
bad," she wrote (July 7) ; " the habit of living not in the 
present but in a future of dreams is gradually spreading 
over my whole existence. It is rapidly approaching the 
state of madness when dreams become realities." And 
now when the goal of Kaiserswerth was near, she felt almost 
unmanned ; almost inclined to turn back and follow another 
path. " It seemed to me now (July 10) as if quiet, with 
somebody to look for my coming back, was all I wanted." 
But this was only a moment of passing weakness. At Berlin 
her spirits revived ; for her vital interests were satisfied, 
and she spent some days in inspecting the hospitals and 
other benevolent institutions. On July 31 she reached 
Kaiserswerth. " I could hardly believe I was there," she 
wrote in her diary. " With the feeling with which a pilgrim 
first looks on the Kedron, I saw the Rhine, dearer to me 
than the Nile." She stayed a fortnight with the Pastor and 
his wife and the Deaconesses, studying their institutions. 
" Left Kaiserswerth," says the diary (August 13), " feeling 
so brave as if nothing could ever vex me again." ^ She 
rejoined her friends at Diisseldorf. " They staid at Ghent 
actually for me to finish my MS." (August 17). " Finished 
my MS. They read it. Mr. Bracebridge corrected it and 
sent it off " (August 19). Next day they returned to Eng- 

^ In the Album of the Pastor's eldest daughter, Miss Nightingale left 
this inscription : — 

" Vier Dinge, Gott, habe ich dir zu bieten, 
Die sich in all deinen Schatzkammern nicht finden : 
Meine Nichtigkeit, meine traurige Armut, 
Meine verderbliche Siinde, meine ernste Reue. 
Nimm diese Gaben an und nimm den Geber hin. 

Kaiserswerth, den 13 August 1850. Fl. N., die mit iiberfliezendem 
Herzen sich immer der Giite all ihrer Freunde in heben Kaiserswerth 
erinnern wird. Ich bin ein Gast gewesen, und ihr habt mir beherbergt " 
Eine Heldin unter Helden, 191 2, p. 45). 


land. The manuscript was of the pamphlet describing 
" The Institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine," which 
was issued anonymously soon after Miss Nightingale's return.^ 
Some notice of the pamphlet will be found in a later 
chapter in connection with her longer sojourn at Kaisers- 
werth in 185 1. It was printed by the inmates of the 
Ragged School at Westminster in which she was interested. 
She described in it the work of the Deaconesses, and ended 
with an appeal to Englishwomen to go and do likewise. The 
fire burnt within her, and she returned home more than 
ever resolved to consecrate her life to the service of the sick 
and sorrowful. 

Foreign travel, it will thus be seen, had worked no such 
cure, had created no such diversion, as her family desired. 
Their hope, even their expectation, was not unreasonable. 
Florence Nightingale was a woman of learning, and her 
foreign travels had stimulated her alike to research and to 
imaginative thought. At home, too, during all the years 
of restless and unsatisfied yearning for some other life, she 
had been a diligent reader and student. She had a real 
gift for literary expression, as her letters may already have 
indicated, and as her later writings were to prove more 
decisively. She had, moreover, the instinct for self-expres- 
sion. She was a constant letter- writer and note-taker. 
She communed with herself not only in speechless thought, 
but in written memoranda. Had another impulse not been 
stronger within her, she might easily have become a literary 
woman of some distinction. But though she was fond of 
writing for her own satisfaction, she had a profound distrust 
of it as a substitute for action. Like one of George Eliot's 
heroines, " she did not want to deck herself with knowledge — 
to wear it loose from the nerves and blood that fed her 
action." " You ask me," she had written to Miss Clarke in 
1844, " why I do not write something. I think what is not 
of the first class had better not exist at all ; and besides I 
had so much rather live than write ; writing is only a sup- 
plement for living. Would you have one go away and 

^ Bibliography A, No. i. 


' give utterance to one's feelings ' in a poem to appear (price 
2 guineas) in the Belle Assemblee ? ' I think one's feehngs 
waste themselves in words ; they ought all to be distilled 
r I into actions, and into actions which bring results. Do you 
I think a babe would ever learn to walk if it were to talk about 
its living in such ' strange times/ ' I must learn to use my 
legs,' and so on ? Or do you think anybody ever did any- 
thing, who did not go to it with a directness of purpose, 
which prevented him from frittering away his impressions 
in words ? " She was of Ibsen's persuasion : — 

What is Life ? a fighting 
In heart and in brain with trolls. 
Poetry ? that means writing 
Doomsday-accounts of our souls. ^ 

She held in great suspicion and dislike what she called 
the " artist-like way of looking upon life." It reduces all 
religions, she said, and most inward and spiritual feelings 
" into a sort of magic-lantern, with which to make play 
for the amusement of the company." Her mother used to 
praise her " beautiful letters," was proud of the " European 
reputation " she had won among learned men, and wanted 
to know why she could not be happy in cultivating at home 
the gifts which God had given her. To Florence Nightingale 
these things were not gifts to be cultivated, but rather 
temptations to be subdued. She read with some attention 
in 1846 a book called Passages from the Life of a Daughter at 
Home, a religious work containing counsels of submission 
for women dissatisfied with their home life. " Piling up 
miscellaneous instruction for oneself," she wrote in one 
place in the margin ; " the most unsatisfactory of all pur- 
suits ! " She strove to say to God, as she wrote in another 
place, " Behold the handmaid of the Lord ! not Behold the 
handmaid of correspondence, or of music, or of meta- 
physics! " "That power of always writing a good letter 
whenever one likes," she said in one of her pages of self- 
examination, "is a great temptation " — a temptation, if 
such it be, to which, it must be confessed, she continually 
succumbed. But she wished to win no repute from her fall. 
In 1854 her sister printed the " beautiful letters " from 

^ Lyrics and Poems from Ibsen, translated by F. E. Garrett. " DEVOTION TO THE SICK " 95 

Egypt,^ and issued a few copies for private circulation. 
Florence was not pleased, but acquiesced, and corrected the 

Any dreams, then, which she may have harboured of 
literary distinction, she had put resolutely away from her, 
" Oh God," she had written in her diary at Cairo, " thou 
puttest into my heart this great desire to devote myself to 
the sick and sorrowful. I offer it to thee. Do with it 
what is for thy service." But there was still one other 
temptation to be subdued. 

^ Bibliography A, No. 2. 



The craving for sympathy, which exists between two who are to form 
one indivisible and perfect whole, is in most cases between man and woman, 
in some between man and God. This the Roman Cathohcs have under- 
stood and expressed under the simile, Christ the bridegroom, the Nun 
married to Him, the Monk married to the Church ; or as St. Francis to 
poverty, or as St. Ignatius Loyola to the divine mistress of his thoughts, 
the Virgin. This sort of tie between man and God seems alone able to 
fill the want of the other, the permanent exclusive tie between the one man 
and the one woman. — Florence Nightingale : Suggestions for Thought. 

" I HAD three paths among which to choose," wrote Miss 
Nightingale in a diary of 1850 : "I might have been a 
Hterary woman, or a married woman, or a Hospital Sister." 
We have seen how she turned away from the first path. 
Why did she reject the second ? 

" Our dear Flo," wrote Mrs. Bracebridge to Miss Clarke 
in 1844, " has just recovered from a severe cold, but I hear 
nothing of what I long for, i.e. some noble-hearted, true man, 
one who can love her as she deserves to be loved, prepared 
to take her to a house of her own." And three years later 
another friend, Fanny Allen, in describing a visit to Embley, 
said of Florence : " What a wife she would make for a man 
worthy of her ! but I am not sure I yet know the mate fit 
for her." The two Nightingale girls, she surmised, would 
experience a " difficulty in finding any one they would like 
well enough to forsake such a home." ^ In the case of 
Florence, the position was ill understood by outsiders. To 
her the home was not a happy garden which she would be 

^ A Century of Family Letters, vol. ii. pp. 106, 107. 


very reluctant to forsake, but rather a gilded cage from 
which she eagerly sought a way of escape. To us who have 
the means of knowing her inmost thoughts and feelings, the 
question thus presents itself in another light than that in 
which it appeared to her friends at the time. She craved 
for a larger, fuller life than she could find at home. Why 
could she not, or why did she not, seek it in marriage ? It 
is love that sometimes " frees the imprisoned spirit," that 
enables it to find and to express itself. That Miss Nightin- 
gale remained single was not the result of lack of opportunity 
to marry. The reason is to be found elsewhere — in feelings, 
thoughts, and ideals, in reasoned convictions and aspira- 
tions, which, if I can present them aright, will illuminate 
her character and her career. 

In 1873 Miss Nightingale, like the rest of the world, 
was reading Middlemarch, and a paper which she wrote in 
that year contained some notice of George Eliot's heroine.^ 
" A novel of genius has appeared. Its writer once put 
before the world (in a work of fiction too), certainly the most 
living, probably the most historically truthful, presentment 
of the great Idealist, Savonarola of Florence. This author 
now can find no better outlet for the heroine — also an 
Idealist — because she cannot be a ' St. Teresa ' or an ' Anti- 
gone,' than to marry an elderly sort of literary impostor, 
and, quick after him, his relation, a baby sort of itinerant 
Cluricaune (see Irish Fairies) or inferior Faun (see Haw- 
thorne's matchless Transformation). Yet close at hand, in 
actual life, was a woman — an Idealist too — and if we mistake 
not, a connection of the author's, who has managed to make 
her ideal very real indeed. By taking charge of blocks of 
buildings in poorest London, while making herself the rent- 
collector, she found work for those who could not find work 
for themselves ; she organized a system of visitors ; . . . 
she brought sympathy and education to bear from individual 
to individual, ... so that one might be tempted to say, 
' Were there one such woman with power to direct the flow 
of volunteer help, nearly everywhere running to waste, in 
every street of London's East End, almost might the East 
End be persuaded to become Christian.' Could not the 

^ Fraser's Magazine, May 1873. 

98 FANCY FREE px.i 

heroine, the ' sweet sad enthusiast,' have been set to some 
such work as this ? Indeed it is past telling the mischief 
that is done in thus putting down youthful ideals. There 
are not too many to begin with. There are few indeed to 
end with — even without such a gratuitous impulse as this to 
end them." In this passage, as in much that Florence 
Nightingale wrote, there is an autobiographical note. She 
did not marry because she held fast to an ideal — an ideal 
nearer to that of Octavia Hill than to that of Dorothea 


For two or three years Florence Nightingale was in much 
trouble of mind from an attachment which one of her cousins 
had formed for her. In no case would she have thought it 
right to marry him. " Accident or relationship," she wrote 
some years later,^ " throw people together in their childhood, 
and acquaintance has grown up naturally and unconsciously. 
Accordingly in novels it is generally cousins who marry ; 
and now it seems the only natural thing, the only possible 
way of making an intimacy. And yet we know that inter- 
marriage between relations is in direct contravention of the 
laws of nature for the well-being of the race." It was sup- 
posed by some of the family circle at the time that this was 
the only objection to an engagement ; but there were 
others. Florence was in no mood, then or afterwards, to 
marry for the sake of marrying. Marriage, she had written 
to Miss Clarke (p. 66), was not an absolute blessing ; and 
though she liked her cousin, she was in no sense in love with 
him. She felt relief, intense and unmixed, as she recorded 
in her private meditations, when she learnt that the young 
man had at last forgotten her. But though this episode 
left her heart-whole, it had a great and painful influence 
upon her mind. " Cleanse all my love from the desire of 
creating an interest in another's heart " is the burden of 
many of her meditations. 

Among other attachments of which Florence Nightingale 
was the object, there was one which had a deeper effect 
and called for a more difficult and searching choice in life. 

^ Suggestions for Thought, vol. ii. p. 401. 


She was asked in marriage by one who continued for some 
years to press his suit. It was a proposal which seemed 
to those about her to promise every happiness. The match 
would by all have been deemed suitable, and by many 
might have been called brilliant. And Florence herself 
was strongly drawn to her admirer. She had not come to 
this state of mind in hasty inclination. She was on her 
guard against any such temptation. Many years before, 
in a letter to her " brother Jonathan," as she called Miss 
Hilary Bonham Carter, she had written : — 

It strikes me that in all the most ««worldly poetry (both 
prose and verse) la passion qu'on appelle inclination is treated 
in a very extraordinary way. When one finds a comparative 
stranger becoming all of a sudden more essential to one than 
one's family (via flattery, in general, of one sort or another), 
one is content with saying to oneself, " Oh ! that's love," instead 
of saying, " How unjust and how blind this feeling is." I wonder 
whether if people were to examine— for, as Socrates says, the 
life unexamined is not a living life — they would not find that 
(whatever it may ripen to afterwards) this feeling at first is 
generally begun by vanity or jealousy or self-love ; and that 
what is very much to be guarded against, instead of submitted 
to, is the stranger's admiration (and I suppose everybody has 
been susceptible at one time of their lives) having more effect 
upon one than one's own family's. 

In this case, however, the stranger's admiration had 
stood the test. She felt drawn to him, not by vanity or 
self-love ; but because she admired his talents, and because 
the more she saw of him the greater pleasure did she find in 
his society. She leaned more and more upon his sympathy. 
Yet when the proposal first came, she refused it ; and when 
it was renewed, she persisted. Then, it may be said, she 
cannot have been " in love " with him. And in one sense 
that is, I suppose, quite true ; for love, as the poets tell us, 
does not reason, and Florence Nightingale reasoned deeply 
over her case. But it is certain that she felt at least as much 
affection as suffices to make half the marriages in the world. 
She turned away from a path to which she was strongly 
drawn in order to pursue her Ideal. 

In one of the many pages of autobiographical notes 
which she preserved in relation to this episode in her life. 


Miss Nightingale thus explained her refusal to marry, i " I 
k I have an intellectual nature which requires satisfaction, and 
I that would find it in him. I have a passional nature which 
requires satisfaction, and that would find it in him. I have 
a moral, an active nature which requires satisfaction, and 
that would not find it in his life. I can hardly find satis- 
faction for any of my natures. Sometimes I think that I 
will satisfy my passional nature at all events, because that 
will at least secure me from the evil of dreaming. But 
would it ? I could be satisfied to spend a life with him 
combining our different powers in some great object. I 
could not satisfy this nature by spending a life with him in 
making society and arranging domestic things. ... To be 
nailed to a continuation and exaggeration of my present 
life, without hope of another, would be intolerable to me. 
Voluntarily to put it out of my power ever to be able to 
seize the chance of forming for myself a true and rich life 
would seem to me like suicide." 

Florence Nightingale was no vestal ascetic. A true and 
perfect marriage was, she thought, the perfect state. "Marry- 
ing a man of high and good purpose, and following out that 
purpose with him is the happiest "lot. " The highest, the 
only true love, is when two persons, a man and a woman, 
who have an attraction for one another, unite together in 
some true purpose for mankind and God." ^ The thought 
of God in instituting marriage was " that these two, when 
the right two are united, shall throw themselves fearlessly 
into the universe, and do its work, secure of companionship 
and sympathy." Miss Nightingale recognized also that for 
many women marriage, even though it may fall short of 
this ideal state, is the proper lot in life. But she held, on 
the other hand, that there are some women who may be 
marked out for single life. " I don't agree at all (she wrote 
in 1846) that a woman has no reason (if she does not care 
for any one else) for not marrying a good man who asks her, 
and I don't think Providence does either. I think He has 
as clearly marked out some to be single women as He has 
others to be wives, and has organized them accordingly for 
their vocation, I think some have every reason for not 

^ Suggestions for Thought, vol. ii. pp. 229, 231. 


marrying, and that for these it is much better to educate . 
the children who are aheady in the world and can't be got 
out of it, than to bring more into it. The Primitive Church 
clearly thought so too, and provided accordingly ; and 
though no doubt the Primitive Church was in many matters 
an old woman, yet I think the experience of ages has proved 
her right in this." And again : " Ours is a system of Chris- 
tianity without the Cross " ; the single life was the life of 
Christ. " Has Heaven bestowed everlasting souls on men, 
and sent them upon earth for no better purpose than to 
marry and be given in marriage ? True, there is in this 
world much more waiting to be done ; but is it the man 
leading a secular life who will do it ? He is apt to see nothing 
beyond himself and the fair creature he has chosen for his 
bride." And, as with men, so with women. There are 
women of intellectual or actively moral natures for whom 
marriage (unless it realizes the perfect ideal) means the 
sacrifice of their higher capacities to the satisfaction of 
their lower. " Death," she wrote (again in a note-book of 
1846), " is often the gateway to the Garden where we shall 
no longer hunger and thirst after real satisfaction. Marriage, 
on the contrary, is often an initiation into the meaning of 
that inexorable word Never ; which does not deprive us, it 
is true, of what ' at their festivals the idle and inconsiderate 
call life,' but which brings in reality the end of our lives, 
and the chill of death with it," 

In her own case. Miss Nightingale was conscious of 
capacities within her for " high purposes for mankind and 
for God." She could not feel sure that the marriage which 
was offered to her would enable her to employ those capaci- 
ties to their best and fullest power. And so she sacrificed 
her "passional" nature to her moral ideal. " I am 30,". 
she wrote on her birthday in her diary of 1850 ; " the age 
at which Christ began His mission. Now no more childish 
things, no more vain things, no more love, no more marriage. 
Now, Lord, let me only think of Thy will." And amongst 
her sayings in another book, I find this : " Strong passions 
to teach the secrets of the human heart, and a strong will -^ 
to hold them in subjection, these are the keys of the king- 
dom in this world and the next." Florence Nightingale 


turned away from marriage in order that she might remain 
entirely free to fulfil her vocation. 


It was not a sacrifice which cost her little. If, as some 
may hold, she was not in love, yet she confessed to herself 
many of a lover's pangs, and there were moments when, as 
she met her admirer again, or as she thought of him, she was 
half inclined to repent of her choice of the single life. And 
the sacrifice, moreover, was of an immediate satisfaction to 
an ideal which after all she might never be able to realize. 
The legends of the saints tell of many virgins and martyrs 
who have crucified the flesh and sacrificed worldly happiness 
for the love of Christ. But when the sacrifice was made, 
the love which seemed to them far better was already theirs. 
In the ears of St. Agnes the Divine Voice had sounded with 
sweet assurance, and she had tasted of the milk and honey 
of His lips. St. Dorothea was already espoused in a garden 
where celestial fruits and roses that never fade surrounded 
her. And to Florence Nightingale also happiness was to be 
given, filling aU her life for some years, so that she " sought 
no better heaven " ; but at the time when she made her 
choice, and renounced all else to follow her ideal, the way 
before her was still dark and uncertain. She was conscious 
of a call, but she had no assurance of appointed work. To 
have entered into a marriage which gave no sure promise of 
her ideal, would have been, she felt, the suicide of a soul ; 
yet, when she was called to choose between the two paths, 
her present life was starvation. 

Perhaps it was the price which she had paid for her 
ideal that led to what, in later years, some considered a 
certain hardness in her. When once a woman had devoted 
her life to the work of nursing, Miss Nightingale had little 
sympathy with any turning back. She seemed sometimes 
in such cases to regard marriage as the unpardonable sin. 

But another and a loftier train of thought was prompted 
by her experience. At the end of one of her meditations 
upon marriage, and her refusal of it, I find these significant 
words : " I must strive after a better life for woman." She 


did not mean a better life than marriage ; she meant also 
a life that should make the conditions of marriage better. 
In the world in which she lived, daughters, she wrote, " can 
only have a choice among those people whom their parents 
like, and who like their parents well enough to come to their 
house." One may doubt whether in the mid- Victorian or 
in any age, young men paid calls only because they liked 
the parents ; but unquestionably restriction in the employ- 
ments of women involves also limitation in the opportunities 
for choice in marriage. And at the same time the lack of 
interest and variety in the lives of girls at home makes 
many of them inclined to marriage as a mere means of 
escape. By throwing open new spheres of usefulness to^ 
women. Miss Nightingale hoped at one and the same time \ y^ 
to improve the lot of those who were marked out to be wives, 
and to find satisfaction for those marked out for the single 




The only happiness a brave man ever troubled himself with asking 
much about was, happiness enough to get his work done. It is, after all, 
the one unhappiness of a man, that he cannot work ; that he cannot get 
his destiny as a man fulfilled. — Carlyle. 

Foreign travel had, as we have seen, in no way changed 
Florence Nightingale's resolve to devote herself to a life of 
nursing. She had turned away deliberately from marriage, 
and was bent upon finding a new field of usefulness for 
unmarried women. But ways and means of doing this 
were not yet apparent. She had no independent fortune 
of her own. She returned to a family circle which understood 
her cravings no better than before. The call of domestic 
duties was the same as before. There were aunts and a 
grandmother to be visited, company at home to be enter- 
tained, a sister to be humoured, a father and mother to 
be pleased. 

But she could not please them, because she herself 
could find no pleasure in their Hfe. She did not say to herself 
that she was better than they. Still less did she thank God 
that she was not as they were. But she felt with piteous 
keenness the gulf that separated her alike from her parents 
and from her sister. She loved her father, and admired 
his good impulses and amiable character. But she per- 
ceived that his contentment in a life of busy idleness made 
him constitutionally unable to enter fully into her state of 
mind. She loved her mother, and considered that she was, 



within her range, a woman of genius. " She has the genius 
of order," she wrote in a character-sketch of her mother, 
" the genius to organize a parish, to form society. She has 
obtained by her own exertions the best society in England." 
What pained the daughter was the inabihty to please the 
mother. " When I feel her disappointment in me, it is as 
if I was becoming insane." She loved her sister also, and, 
I think, yet more tenderly. But as the sister once wrote : 
" The natures God has given us differ as widely as different 
races." Florence was deeply sensible of the attractive side 
of her sister's character. Lady Verney had indeed a most 
attractive mind ; she was very vivacious, inquiring, and 
highly gifted, both as an artist and as a writer. She was a 
perfect hostess, and her memory is pleasant to all who 
knew her. If she lacked some of her sister's stronger 
English characteristics, she had a light touch which 
Florence did not possess. And Florence felt the charm of 
all this. " No one less than I," she wrote, " wants her to 
do one single thing different from what she does. She 
wants no other religion, no other occupation, no other 
training than what she has. She has never had a difficulty 
except with me ; she knows nothing of struggle in her own 
unselfish nature." But for that very reason she could 
not sympathize with, because she could not understand, 
her sister's difficulties. In a passage which is doubtless 
autobiographical, Florence wrote : " Very few people can 
sympathise with each other in any pursuit or thought of 
any importance. If people do not give you thought for 
thought, receive yours, digest it, and give it back with the 
impression of their own character upon it, then give you one 
for you to do hkewise, it is best to know what one is about, 
and not to attempt more than kindly, cheerful outward 
intercourse. Some find amusement in the outward, do not 
suffer inwardly, because the attention is turned elsewhere." ^ 
Meanwhile Florence felt that everything she said or did was 
a subject of vexation to her sister, a disappointment to 
her mother, a worry to her father. " I have never known 
a happy time," she exclaimed to herself, " except at Rome 
and that fortnight at Kaiserswerth. It is not the unhappi- 

^ Suggestions for Thought, vol. ii. pp. 236, 237. 

io6 A LIFE OF " STARVATION " pt.i 

ness I mind, it is not indeed ; but people can't be unhappy 
without making those about them so." 

She strove to attain happiness. She tried to submit 
her will to what her spiritual confidantes told her must 
be taken to be the will of God ; to trust that in His own 
good time He would make her vocation sure ; in such 
confidence to find relief, and to throw herself meanwhile 
into the round of immediate duties. But the more she 
struggled, the more she failed. She could not subdue the 
imperious longing to be up and doing which surged within 
her. " The thoughts and feelings that I have now," she 
wrote, " I can remember since I was six years old. It was 
not that I made them. A profession, a trade, a necessary 
occupation, something to fill and employ all my faculties, 
I have always felt essential to me, I have always longed for, 
consciously or not. During a middle part of my life, college 
education, acquirement, I longed for, but that was tem- 
porary. The first thought I can remember, and the last, 
was nursing work ; and in the absence of this, education 
work, but more the education of the bad than of the young. 
But for this I had had no education myself." Finding 
no outlet in active reality, she lived more than ever in 
a land of dreams. " Everything has been tried," she 
exclaimed to herself ; " foreign travel, kind friends, every- 
thing." And again, " My God ! what is to become of 
me ? " Eighteen months before she had resolved on a great 
effort to crucify her old self, " to break through the habits, 
entailed upon me by an idle life, of living, not in the present 
world of action, but in a future one of dreams. Since 
then nations have passed before me, but have brought 
no new life to me. In my 31st year I see nothing 
desirable but death." She was perishing, as she put it, 
for want of food ; and she could find no impulse to activity. 
Her habit of late rising grew upon her ; for what had she 
to wake for ? " Starvation does not lead a man to exertion, 
it only weakens him. O weary days, O evenings that 
seem never to end ! For how many long years, I have 
watched that drawing-room clock and thought it would 
never reach the ten ! And for 20 or 30 more years 
to do this ! " And again, " Oh, how I am to get through 


this day, to talk through all this day, is the thought of 
every morning. . . . This is the sting of death. Why do 
I wish to leave this world ? God knows I do not expect a 
heaven beyond, but that He would set me down in St. 
Giles's, at a Kaiserswerth, there to find my work and my 
salvation in my work." 


Such cries from the heart, cries for the food for which 
she was hungering and which her parents could or would 
not let her take, filled many a sheet of Florence Nightingale's 
diaries, letters, and memoranda. " Mountains of diffi- 
culties," as she says in one place, were " piled up " around 
her. Looking forward to a New Year (1851) she could see 
nothing in front of her but the same unsatisfying routine. 
" The next three weeks," she said, in one of her written 
colloquies with herself, " you will have company ; then a 
fortnight alone ; then a few weeks of London, then Embley ; 
then perhaps go abroad ; then three months of company at 
Lea Hurst ; next the same round of Embley company." 
And then, with a humorous transition not infrequent in 
her musings, she asks, " But why can't you get up in the 
morning ? I have nothing I like so much as unconsciousness, 
but I will try." As the year advanced a more decided spirit 
of revolt begins to appear in her diaries. One of her per- 
plexities hitherto had been a doubt whether the " mountains 
of difficulties " were to be taken as occasions for submission 
to God's will, or whether they were piled up in order to try 
her patience and her resolve, and were to be surmounted 
by some initiative of her own. She now began to interpret 
God's will in the latter sense. " I must take some things," 
she wrote on Whitsunday (June 8, 1851), " as few as I can, 
to enable me to live. I must take them, they will not be 
given me ; take them in a true spirit of doing Thy will, 
not of snatching them for my own will. I must do without 
some things, as many as I can, which I could not have 
without causing more suffering than I am obliged to cause 
any way." She would cease looking for the sympathy 
and understanding of her mother and sister. " I have 
been so long treated as a child and have so long "allowed 


myself to be treated as a child." She would submit to such 
tutelage no longer. 

Various plans had at different times found place in her 
dreams. She would collect funds for founding a sisterhood, 
an institution, a hospital ; but one thing she saw clearly 
and consistently. If she were ever to have an opportunity 
of doing good work in nursing or otherwise in service to the 
poor, she must first leam her business. There is a long letter 
of 1850 from her to her father in which she argues the point, 
not specifically with reference to herself, but as a general 
proposition. Something more than good intention is 
necessary in order to do good. Philanthropy is a matter 
of skill, and an apprenticeship in it is necessary. An 
opportunity occurred sooner than she had dared to hope 
which enabled her to serve such an apprenticeship. Her 
sister was still in bad health, and a visit to Carlsbad was 
again proposed. She insisted on being allowed to start 
with her mother and her sister, and to spend at Kaiserswerth 
the time that they would spend upon the cure and subsequent 

She reached Kaiserswerth early in July and stayed 
there as an inmate of the Institution until October 8. 


Kaiserswerth is an ancient town on the Rhine, on the 
right bank, six miles below Diisseldorf. In its Church of 
the twelfth century a reliquary is shown, in which are 
preserved the bones of St. Suitbertus, who came there from 
Ireland to preach the Gospel in 710. Eleven centuries 
later, a Protestant pastor of Kaiserswerth repaid the debt 
to the British Isles by founding the famous Institution for 
Deaconesses which was now to give Florence Nightingale 
an important part of her training. The order of deaconesses, 
as she was careful to point out in her account of Kaiserswerth, 
was known in the Primitive Church ; and long before St. 
Vincent de Paul established the Sisters of Mercy in 1633, 
Protestant communities had in 1457 organized " Presby- 
terae," since " many women chose a single state, not because 
they expected thereby to reach a super-eminent degree of 


holiness, but that they might be better able to care for the 
sick and young." It was in 1823-24 that the young pastor. 
of Kaiserswerth, Theodor Fliedner, set out on a journey' ^ 
to Holland and England to beg for funds to reheve his H 
parish, which had been ruined by the failure of a silk-mill. I 
In England, the little Princess Victoria headed his list of 
subscribers. In London he met Mrs. Elizabeth Fry and 
was greatly impressed with her work in Newgate. Shortly 
after his return he founded (1826) the Rhenish- Westphalian 
Prison Association. Presently he met a kindred spirit in 
Friederike Miinster, a woman in comparatively easy circum- 
stances who was devoting herself to reformatory work. 
They married, and in 1833 — ^^ ^ tiny summer-house in 
the pastor's garden — a refuge was opened for the reception 
of a single discharged prisoner. Three years later, they 
added, on an equally modest scale at first, an Infant School, 
and a Hospital in which to train volunteer-nurses as 
deaconesses. From these humble beginnings has grown 
a great congeries of institutions, the fame of which has 
spread throughout the philanthropic world. There are 
thirty branch or daughter houses in various parts of 
Germany. They are to be found also at Jerusalem, Alex- 
andria, Cairo, Beirut, Smyrna, and Bucharest. " Not only 
its own daughter houses, but all independent institutions 
for deaconesses, owe their existence to Kaiserswerth, for 
all subsequent work wrought by deaconesses whether in 
France, Switzerland, or America, whether Lutheran, 
Methodist, or Episcopalian, has been the fruit of the Kaisers- 
werth tree." ^ 

But the forest began as a tiny acorn. Pastor Fliedner 
started his work not with grandiose schemes or full-fledged 
programmes, but with individual cases and personal devotion. 
This was a point to which Miss Nightingale called particular 
attention in her account of the place. "It is impossible 
not to observe," she said, " how different was the beginning 
from the way in which institutions are generally founded — 
a list of subscribers with some royal and noble names at the 
head — a double column of rules and regulations — a collection 
of great names begin (and end) most new enterprises. The 

^ History of Nursing, vol. ii. p. 4. 


regulations are made without experience. Honorary 
members abound, but where are the working ones ? The 
scheme is excellent, but what are the results ? " Miss 
Nightingale's intensely practical genius had ever a holy 
horror of prospectuses. In some notes wiitten on June 15, 
1848, I find this passage : — 

Eschew Prospectuses ; they're the devil, and make one sick. 
It is like making out a bill of fare when you have not a single 
pound of meat. What do the cookery books say ? First catch 
your hare. All the instances on the Continent have begun in 
one of two ways. At Kaiserswerth, a clergyman and his wife 
have begun, not with a Prospectus, but with a couple of hospital 
beds, and have offered, not an advertisement, but a home to 
young women willing to come. At Berne, a Mdlle. Wiirstenberger, 
a woman of rank and education, goes to Kaiserswerth to learn, 
and her friend to Strassburg. They return and open a hospital 
with two rooms, increase their funds, others join them and are 
taught by them. ... To publish first is as bad a practical bull 
as is the name of the Prospective Review. 

A few years were to pass, and Florence Nightingale herself 
was to begin her work in the world not with a programme, 
but with a deed. 

The institutions of Kaiserswerth, when she was there in 
1 85 1, were still on a comparatively modest scale. They 
comprised, as she enumerates them, a Hospital (with 
100 beds), an Infant School, a Penitentiary (with 12 
inmates), an Orphan Asylum, and a Normal School 
for schoolmistresses. There were in all 116 deaconesses, 
of whom 94 were " consecrated," the remainder being 
still on probation. The " consecration " consisted only 
of "a solemn blessing in the Church, without vows of 
any kind." Of the 116 deaconesses, 67 were on service 
in other parts of Germany, or abroad ; the rest were engaged 
in working the various institutions at Kaiserswerth itself. 
After six months' trial they received a modest salary, just 
enough to provide their clothes. There was no other 
reward, except that the Mother House stood open to receive 
those who might fall ill or become infirm in its service. 
Everything was clean and well ordered, but there was no 
luxury ; the board was simple to the verge of roughness. 
The place was pervaded by two notes. It was a place of 

cH.viii ITS STANDARDS iii 

training, and a place of consecrated service. The training 
was both in practice and by precept. Every week the 
pastor gave a conversational lecture to the deaconesses, 
finding out from each the difficulties she might have 
experienced in her work, and suggesting how they could 
best be met. The education of the young, the ministration 
of the sick, the art of district visiting, the yet more difficult 
work of rescue and reformation, all were taught. 

In such a place as this, Florence Nightingale found 
by actual experience, as already she had learnt to expect 
from reading the reports, the realization in some degree of 
her most earnest desires. The training in nursing was, it 
is true, not particularly good ; it fell far short of the pro- 
fessional standard which the Nightingale School was after- 
wards to set up. She objected strongly in later years to 
current statements that her own training was confined to 
Kaiserswerth. " The nursing there," she wrote, " was ; 
nil. The hygiene horrible. The hospital was certainly ! 
the worst part of Kaiserswerth. I took all the training/-^ 
that was to be had — there was none to be had in England, 
but Kaiserswerth was far from having trained me." On 
the other hand " the tone was excellent, admirable. And 
Pastor Fliedner's addresses were the very best I ever heard. 
The penitentiary out-door work and vegetable gardening 
under a very capable Sister were excellently adapted to 
the case. And Pastor Fliedner's solemn and reverential 
teaching to us of the sad events of hospital life was what 
I have never heard in England." ^ But here, at Kaisers- 
werth, Miss Nightingale found " a better life for women," 
a scope for the exercise of " morally active " powers. And 
here, though the field was limited, was provided in some 
sort the training which alone could fit women for larger 
responsibilities elsewhere. Here was " the service of man " 
organized as " the service of God " ; here was opportunity 
for the Dedicated Life, as she had found it also in the 
Trinita de' Monti. 

Her manner of life at Kaiserswerth and her joy in it 
were told in letters to her mother : — 

^ Letter to Mrs. C. S. Roundell, August 4, 1896. 


On Sunday I took the sick boys a long walk along the Rhine ; 
two Sisters were with me to help me to keep order. They were 
all in ecstasies with the beauty of the scenery, and really I thought 
it very fine too in its way — the broad mass of waters flowing 
ever on slowly and calmly to their destination, and all that 
unvarying horizon — so hke the slow, calm, earnest, meditative 
German character. 

The world here fills my hfe with interest, and strengthens 
me in body and mind. I succeeded directly to an office, and 
am now in another, so that until yesterday I never had time 
even to send my things to the wash. We have ten minutes for 
each of our meals, of which we have four. We get up at 5 ; 
breakfast I before 6. The patients dine at 11 ; the Sisters 
at 12. We drink tea {i.e. a drink made of ground rye) 
between 2 and 3, and sup at 7. We have two ryes and two 
broths — ryes at 6 and 3, broths at 12 and 7 ; bread at the two 
former, vegetables at 12. Several evenings in the week we 
collect in the Great Hall for a Bible lesson. The Pastor sent for 
me once to give me some of his unexampled instructions ; the 
man's wisdom and knowledge of human nature is wonderful ; 
he has an instinctive acquaintance with every character in 
his place. Except that once I have only seen him in his 

The operation to which Mrs. Bracebridge alludes was an 
amputation at which I was present, but which I did not mention 

to , knowing that she would see no more in my interest in 

it than the pleasure dirty boys have in playing in the puddles 
about a butcher's shop. I find the deepest interest in everything 
here, and am so well in body and mind. This is Life. Now 
I know what it is to five and to love hfe, and really I should be 
sorry now to leave life. I know you will be glad to hear this, 
dearest Mum. God has indeed made life rich in interests and 
blessings, and I wish for no other earth, no other world but this. 

The room in which Miss Nightingale slept during her 
residence at Kaiserswerth was in the Orphan Asylum. 
She took her meals with the Deaconesses. The Spartan 
severity, but no less the beautiful spirit of the place, were 
clear in her recollection nearly half a century later. In 1897 
the authorities of the British Museum applied to her for 
a copy of the pamphlet on Kaiserswerth which she had 
printed in 185 1. The pencilled note which she sent with a 
torn copy of the pamphlet, the only one she could find, is 
preserved in the Museum Library. " I was twice in training 
there myself," she wrote (September 24, 1897). " Of course 


since then, Hospital and District nursing have made giant 
strides. Indeed District nursing has been invented. But 
never have I met with a higher tone, a purer devotion, 
than there. There was no neglect. It was the more 
remarkable because many of the Deaconesses had been 
only peasants — none were gentlewomen (when I was there). 
The food was poor. No coffee but bean - coffee. No 
luxury ; but cleanliness." Pastor Fliedner told a visitor 
to Kaiserswerth that " no person had ever passed so dis- 
tinguished an examination, or shown herself so thoroughly 
mistress of all she had to learn, as Miss Nightingale." ^ 


Happy as Miss Nightingale was at Kaiserswerth, there 
was yet one thing lacking. She wished, it is true, for no 
other earth ; she had found her pictured heaven ; her life 
was full and rich. Yet with all her self-reliance, and even 
in the moment of first victory in her long struggle for self- 
expression, she yearned, woman-like, for sympathy. Nay, 
and not only woman-like. " Not till we can think," said 
Carlyle, " that here and there one is thinking of us, one is 
loving us, does this waste earth become a peopled garden." 
It was not enough to Florence that she should have had 
her way and that her parents should have acquiesced. 
Her loving heart craved for their positive sympathy ; her 
mind, half leaning for all its masterfulness, demanded that 
what she had decided should be accepted by those dear 
to her as their choice also. " I should be as happy here,"' 
she wrote to her mother (August 31), "as the day is long, 
if I could hope that I had your smile, your blessing, your, 
sympathy upon it ; without which I cannot be quite happy. 1 
My beloved people, I cannot bear to grieve you. Life and 
everything in it that charms you, you would sacrifice for me ; 
but unknown to you is my thirst, unseen by you are waters 
which would save me. To save me, I know would be to 
bless yourselves, whose love for me passes the love of women. 
Oh how shall I show you love and gratitude in return, yet 

^ Mr. Sidney Herbert's speech at the Nightingale Fund Meeting, Nov. 
29. 1855. 



not so perish that you chiefly would mourn ! Give me time, 
give me faith. Trust me, help me, I feel within me that 
I could gladden your loving hearts which now I wound. 
Say to me, ' Follow the dictates of that spirit within thee.' 
Oh my beloved people, that spirit shall never lead me to 
anything unworthy of one who is yours in love." ^ But 
her mother and her sister, though they loved and admired 
her, or perhaps from their point of view because they did 
so. were unable to give any such active sympathy as that 
for which she craved. Her sister hoped that the visit to 
Kaiserswerth would be only an episode. It was a good 
thing, she had written to her mother, for Florence to go 
there, "as we can get her back sooner to Lea Hurst." To 
Florence herself she wrote affectionately, but yet with 
gentle irony. She sent a lively letter describing in detail 
the birth of a friend's twins : "I tell you, as you are going 
to be a sage femme, I suppose," Mrs. Nightingale, for 
her part, had acquiesced in the visit to Kaiserswerth, but 
was already wondering what people would think of her 
daughter's escapade. " I have not mentioned to any one," 
wrote Florence (July i6), " where I am, and should also 
be very sorry that the old ladies should know. With regard, 
however, to your fear of what people will say, the people 
whose opinion you most care about, it has been their earnest 
wish for years that I should come here. The Bunsens 
(I know he wishes one of his own daughters would come), 
the Bracebridges, the Sam Smiths, Lady Inglis, the Sidney 
Herberts, the Plunketts, all wish it ; and I know that 
others — Lady Bjnron, Caroline Bathurst, Mr. Tremenheere, 
Mr. Rich (whose opinions however I have not asked) — 
would think it a very desirable thing for everybody. . . . 
With regard to telhng people the fact (afterwards) of my 
having been here, I can see no difficulty. The Herberts, 
as you know, even commissioned me to do something for 
them here. The fact itself will pain none of them," Mr. 
and Mrs, Herbert, who were at Homburg, presently paid 
her a visit at Kaiserswerth, 

Mrs, Nightingale and her elder daughter reached Cologne 

^ Much of this appeal was suggested to Florence, in almost identical 
words (as an extant letter shows), by her Aunt Mai. 


on their way home in October 185 1, and there Florence 
rejoined them. " Our dear child Florence," wrote the 
mother to Madame Mohl (October 9), " came to us yesterday, 
and is gone this morning to visit certain Deaconesses and 
others. I long to be at home and among our people. Daily 
and hourly I congratulate myself that our home is where it 
is. Oh what a land of justice and freedom and all good 
things it is, compared to what we have seen, and how 
surprising that with all our advantages and our freedom 
won we should not be so much better than other people. 
Well, I hope Florence will be able to apply all the fine 
things she has been learning, to do a little to make us better. 
Parthe and I are much too idle to help and too apt to be 
satisfied with things as they are." 




Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow. — Byron. 

The three months which Miss Nightingale spent at Kaisers- 
werth in 1851 were a turning-point in her career, but they 
were not immediately effectual in altering the tenor of her 
life. The battle for freedom was not yet completely won ; 
but the " mountains of difficulty " in her way had been 
turned, and henceforth the resistance offered to her was 
but a rear-guard action. 

A note of serenity, in marked contrast to the storm and 
distress of earlier years, now appears in some of her letters. 
She had firmly resolved on taking her life into her own 
hands ; and at Kaiserswerth she had already served some 
apprenticeship. She was resolved no less firmly to follow 
up the advantage ; and, though there were still to be some 
difficulties ahead, she could afford to be patient for a while : — 

{To Miss H. Bonham Carter.) Umberslade, Jan. 8. 
Brussels Sprouts is at it already, I mean at correspondence. 
I mention it to show how little women's occupations are respected, 
when people can think that a woman has time to spin out long 
theories with every young fool who visits at her house. This 
place is grand — Inigo Jones, and Papa is content. ... I Hke 
Dr. Johnson ; but I can always talk better to a medical man 
than to any one else. They have not that detestable nationality 
which makes it so difficult to talk with an Englishman. I sup- 
pose the habit of examining organisations gives them this. . . . 
Poor Cassandra has found an unexpected ally in a young surgeon 


cH.ix A BIRTHDAY LETTER (1852) 117 

of a London hospital, a son of Dr. Johnson who sits next Papa at 
the table d'hote. The account he gives of the nurses beats every- 
thing that even I know of. This young prophet says that they 
are all drunkards, without exception, Sisters and all, and that 
there are but two nurses whom the surgeon can trust to give 
the patients their medicines. I thought you would be pleased to 
hear how bad they are, so I tell you. Johnson is extraorchnarily 
careful, but he does not strike me as having genius hke Gully. 
The company is of a nature which would give Mama some hopes 
of me that I should learn " the value of good society " by the 
contrast. . . . 

{To her Father.) May 12 [1852]. On my 32nd birth- 
day I think I must write a word of acknowledgment to you. 
I am glad to think that my youth is past, and rejoice that it 
never, never can return — that time of follies and bondage, of 
unfulfilled hopes and disappointed ^experience, when a man 
possesses nothing, not even himself. I am glad to have lived ; 
though it has been a life which, except as the necessary prepara- 
tion for another, few would accept. I hope now that I have 
come into possession of myself. I hope that I have escaped 
from that bondage which knows not how to distinguish between 
" bad habits " and " duties " — terms often used synonymously 
by all the world. It is too soon to holloa before you are out of 
the wood ; and hke the Magdalen in Correggio's picture, I see 
the dark wood behind, the sharp stones in front only with too 
much clearness. Of clearness, however, there cannot be too 
much. But, as in the picture, there is hght. I hope that I may 
hve ; a thing which I have not often been able to say, because 
I think I have learnt something which it would be a pity to 
waste. And I am ever yours, dear father, in struggle as in 
peace, with thanks for all your kind care, F. N. 

When I speak of the disappointed inexperience of youth, of 
course I accept that, not only as inevitable, but as the beautiful 
arrangement of Infinite Wisdom, which cannot create us gods, 
but which will not create us animals, and therefore wills mankind 
to create mankind by their own experience — a disposition of 
Perfect Goodness which no one can quarrel with. I shall be very 
ready to read you, when I come home, any of my " Works," in 
your own room before breakfast, if you have any desire to hear 
them. — Au revoir, dear Papa. 


There were various reasons for the comparative serenity 
of Miss Nightingale's mind during this period of pause. One 

ii8 THE WATER-CURE pt. i 

was the obvious call of filial duty for the moment. Her 
father was in poor health, and had been advised to take 
the water-cure under Dr. Johnson at Umberslade Park, 
in Worcestershire. Florence, being herself convalescent at 
the time from an attack of the measles, was the more ready 
to companion her father. She was at Umberslade with him 
for some weeks at the beginning, and again at the end, of 
the year. Her observation of some of the patients there, 
as in a former year at Malvern, was the origin of an epi- 
grammatic definition which I find in one of her note-books : 
" The water-cure : a highly popular amusement within the 
last few years amongst athletic invalids who have felt the 
tedium vitae, and those indefinite diseases which a large 
income and unbounded leisure are so well calculated to 
produce." Then, again, towards the end of the year, her 
kinswoman, " Aunt Evans," was smitten down. She was 
the sister of her father's mother, and died at the age of ninety. 
Florence attended her in her last illness, and as emergency- 
man made all the arrangements for her funeral. George 
Eliot was, I beheve, distantly connected with " Aunt 
Evans's " family ; and it was in this year that she and 
Florence met. " I had a note from Miss Florence Nightin- 
gale yesterday," wrote George EHot in July 1852 ; " I was 
much pleased with her. There is a loftiness of mind about 
her which is well expressed by her form and manner." ^ 
Florence also at this time called upon Mrs. Browning, who 
in a letter to a friend, three years later, said : " I remember 
her face and her graceful manner and the flowers she sent 
me afterwards. She is an earnest, noble woman." 2 In 
August 1852 Miss Nightingale visited Ireland, and inspected 
the DubHn hospitals, somewhat, it seems, to her disappoint- 
ment. She went in September with her father to stay with 
Sir James Clark, Queen Victoria's physician, at Birk Hall, 
near Ballater. She always got on well, as we have just 
heard, with medical men, and the opportunity of discussing 
her plans and thoughts with so eminent a physician must 
have pleased her greatly. 

^ George Eliot's Life as Related in her Letters and Journals, edited by 
J. W. Cross, vol. i. p. 285. 

2 Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, vol. i. p. 188. 



The letter to her father, given above, refers to Miss 
Nightingale's " Works " ; and herein is to be found a second 
explanation of this peaceful interlude in her life. She had, 
as I have said, renounced a literary career ; but she drew a 
sharp distinction between what she called literature for its 
own sake, and writing as subservient to action. She was, 
intensely anxious to find some theological sanction, less 
assailable than she deemed the popular creeds to be, for 
her religion of practical service. Again, as I have also said, 
she was determined to open up a new sphere of usefulness 
for women. These were the subjects of her " Works," which 
comprised " a Novel " and a book on " Religion." Of the 
novel, no manuscript has been found among her papers. 
But in one of three volumes of Suggestions for Thought, 
which she printed privately in i860, there is a section 
entitled " Cassandra," dealing with the life at home of an 
ordinary English gentlewoman. It may be conjectured 
that the form of the novel was abandoned after 1852, and 
the theme treated instead in the pages of " Cassandra." 
The manuscript book on " Religion " was doubtless enlarged 
between 1852 and i860 into the main portion of the Sugges- 
tions for Thought, of which the first volume was dedicated 
" To the Artizans of England." 

Already in 185 1, in a sheet of good resolutions. Miss 
Nightingale had planned to devote some portion of her life 
at home to giving " a new religion to the Tailors." The 
hero of Alton Locke, published in 1850, was, it will be re- 
membered, a tailor. IMiss Nightingale herself had some 
acquaintance with operatives in the North of England and 
in London, " among those of what are called ' Holyoake's 
party.' " ^ She met these latter through Mr. Edward True- 
love, whom some readers of earlier generations may still 
remember as a publisher and vendor of radical and " free- 
thinking " literature. " The Literary and Scientific Insti- 
tution " in John Street, Fitzroy Square, was in the 'forties 
the headquarters of Owenite Socialists, the Secularists 

^ Letter to Sir John McNeill, May 17, i860. 

120 MR. TRUELOVE'S SHOP pt. i 

(whose chief prophet was George Jacob Holyoake) and 
other " advanced " persons. In 1846 Mr. Truelove had 
come up from " Harmony Hall," the Owenite community 
at Tytherley in Hampshire, to act as Secretary of the 
Institution in John Street ; and in a small house next door 
he set up his shop — afterwards removed, successively, to 
the Strand and High Holborn. A west-end lady, who did 
not at first give her name, used to pay occasional visits to 
the shop in John Street, and have long conversations with 
the wife of the proprietor. The lady was Miss Nightingale, 
and the acquaintance developed into a friendship with Mrs. 
Truelove, which extended over many years. Mr. Truelove 
was an unworldly man, conducting his affairs with entire 
disregard for " business principles," conventional opinions, 
and constituted authorities. His shop, as Mr. Holyoake 
said, was one of the " fortresses of prohibited thought, not 
garrisoned without daring " ; and provisioned, it may be 
added, scantily enough. Miss Nightingale continued to see 
Mrs. Truelove from time to time in later years ; wrote to her 
occasionally ; sent her books and various presents regularly ; 
and in times of her husband's difficulties and (literally) 
trials, never withheld sympathy. 

Miss Nightingale's object, in her first expeditions to 
John Street, had been to discover and discuss the kind of 
literature affected by the more intelligent working-men. The 
conclusion at which she arrived was that " the most thinking 
and conscientious of the artizans have no religion at all." ^ 
She set to work, accordingly, to find a new religion for them. 
In this undertaking she took much counsel with one of her 
aunts. This was " Aunt Mai," her father's sister, Mary 
Shore, married to Mr. Samuel Smith, her mother's brother. 
A large number of her letters on religious subjects was pre- 
served by Miss Nightingale. They show spiritual insight, 
and a considerable talent in speculative thought. The 
postscript of Miss Nightingale's letter to her father, given 
above, contains one of the fundamental ideas in her scheme 
of theology — the idea of Perfect Goodness, willing that 
mankind shall create mankind by man's own experience. 
The same idea was suggested by Aunt Mai when she wrote 

1 Letter to Sir John McNeill, May 17, 1S60. 


to her niece : " The purpose of God is to accompHsh the 
welfare of man, not as a gift from Him, but as to be attained 
for each individual and for the whole race by the right 
exercise of the capabilities of each." 

During 1851 and 1852 aunt and niece corresponded at 
great length on these high matters, and by the end of the 
latter year Miss Nightingale had her new religion ready 
for the criticism of her friends. " Many thanks," she wrote 
(Nov. 19) to her cousin Hilary, " for your letter of corrections 
and annotations, all of which I have adopted. I should 
much like to have a regular talk with you about the Novel. 
I have not the least idea whether I shall have to remodel 
the Novel and ' Religion ' entirely ; for I am so sick of it 
that I lose all discrimination about the ensemble and the 
form." Her object is explained in a letter of about the 
same date to another friend : — 

{To R. Monckton Milnes.) I am going abroad soon. Before 
I go, I am thinking of asking you whether you would look over 
certain things which I have written for the working-men on the 
subject of belief in a God. All the moral and intellectual among 
them seem going over to atheism, or at least to a vague kind of 
theism. I have read them to one or two, and they have hked 
them. I should have Uked to have asked you if you think them 
likely to be read by more ; but you are perhaps not interested 
in the subject, or you have no time, which is fuUy taken up with 
other things. If you tell me this, it will be no surprise or dis- 
appointment. ^ 

Lord Houghton read the manuscript attentively, and 
did not forget it. Several years later, when Miss Nightingale 
was ill, and thought likely to die, he wrote to her suggesting 
that if she had made no other arrangements for the pre- 
servation and possible publication of her essay, she might 
think of entrusting it to him. " I have often thought," he 
said (March 11, '61), " of asking you what you meant to do 
with the papers you have written on social and speculative 
subjects. They surely should not be destroyed ; and yet I 
hardly know to whom you wiU entrust them, who would 
not misunderstand, misinterpret, and misuse them. If you 
were to leave them in my hands, they would be, at any rate, 

^ Life of Lord Houghton, vol. i. p. 475. 


safe from irreverent handling or crude exposure, and could 
be used in any way more or less future that you might 
think fit." By that time, however, the work had been 
submitted to the judgment of other men of letters ; and to 
that later period further reference to the subject had better 
be postponed. 


The formulating of a religion, whether for the tailors or 
others, is no short task, and Miss Nightingale's " Works " 
must have well filled her mind during otherwise unoccupied 
hours in 1852. But the " Works " were only bye- work. Her 
main concern was to continue her apprenticeship in nursing. 
Some vexatious delays and difficulties were still to be 
encountered, but she faced them with a brighter confidence 
than before, and the last stage of the struggle wears an 
aspect more of comedy than of tragedy. She had success- 
fully asserted her independence once in going to Kaisers- 
werth. In an imaginary dialogue with her mother, she 
makes herself say, " Why, my dear, you don't suppose that 
with my ' talents ' and my ' European reputation ' and my 
* beautiful letters,' and all that, I'm going to stay dangling 
about my mother's drawing-room all my life ! I shall go 
and look out for work, to be sure. You must look upon me 
as your son. I should have cost you a great deal more if 
I had married or been a son. You must now consider me 
married or a son. You were willing to part with me to be 
married." In presenting the case in this light to her parents, 
Florence had now a valuable ally in her Aunt Mai. Some- 
thing of a diplomatist, as well as of a philosopher, was 
within the powers of that excellent woman. Without any 
interference which could be resented, by insinuating a word 
here, suggesting a phrase there, and pouring oil upon troubled 
waters everywhere. Aunt Mai did a good deal to smooth the 
last stages in her niece's struggle for independence. 1 

Like all good diplomatists, the aunt sought first for a 
basis of compromise. She was able to sympathize with 
both sides. She was wholly favourable to her niece's 
aspirations and claims. But as a mother herself, she could 
enter into the case of her brother and his wife. It was not 


that they were selfishly obstructive ; it was that, finding so 
much interest and enjoyment themselves in their own way 
of life, they desired in all love that the daughter should not 
deprive herself of the same privileges. But could not a 
compromise be arranged ? Let it be agreed that Florence 
should spend part of each year in pursuit of what the mother 
considered her daughter's fancies, and spend another part 
at home. This was the arrangement which was in fact now 
in force. 

The compromise served well enough for a while, but 
Florence wanted something more ; and here, again. Aunt 
Mai's diplomacy prepared the way. With a good strategic 
eye, she saw that Mrs. Nightingale held the key of the posi- 
tion. Mr. Nightingale in his heart was at one with Florence. 
He admired her and believed in her ; he was quite willing 
that she should go her own way, and was not reluctant to 
make her some independent allowance, such as would enable 
her to conduct a mission or an institution. But, as he said 
to his sister, whenever he broached anything of the kind 
to his wife and elder daughter, he found them united against 
him. Mr. Nightingale was one of those amiable men who 
are inclined to take the line of least resistance. It was Mrs. 
Nightingale's opposition, therefore, that had to be overcome. 
" Your mother," reported the aunt, " would, I believe, be 
most willing that you undertake a mission like Mrs. Fry or 
Mrs. Chisholm,! but she thinks it necessary for your peace 
and well-being that there should be a Mr. Fry or Captain 
Chisholm to protect you, and in conscience she thinks it 
right to defend you from doing anything which she thinks 
would be an impediment to the existence of Mr. F. or Captain 
C." A good many mothers, even in these days, will, I doubt 
not, be on Mrs. Nightingale's side. But Aunt Mai, having 
made her sister-in-law define the position, pressed the 
advantage in an ingenious way. Florence was already 
thirty-two ; and a time comes soon after that age when even 
the most sanguine mother begins to despair. It was agreed, 
accordingly, that " at some future specified age " Florence 

^ Caroline Jones (1808-77) married Captain Chisholm, 1830 ; opened 
orphan schools in Madras, 1832 ; befriended female emigrants to Australia, 
1841-66. Miss Nightingale had correspondence with her in 1862. 


should be free to do the work of a Mrs. Fry or a Mrs. Chis- 
holm without the protection of a Mr. F. or a Captain C. 
There was even some talk of obtaining a written agreement 
to that effect, specifying the age ; but Aunt Mai thought 
better of such a plan, and contented herself with calling in 
another witness to the verbal understanding. This was the 
lady — Mrs. Bracebridge — who two years later was to ac- 
company Miss Nightingale on a mission more renowned even 
than that of Mrs. Fry or Mrs. Chisholm. But from the point 
gained by Aunt Mai's diplomacy and Florence's own per- 
sistence, a logical consequence followed. Presently, at 
some future unspecified age, Florence was to be free to con- 
trol some philanthropic institution ; but what would be the 
use of being free to do so, unless she were also trained and 
qualified ? 


Having lived and learnt among the Protestant Deacon- 
esses in Germany, Miss Nightingale was next determined to 
do the like among the Catholic Sisters in France. She 
sought the good offices of Manning, whose acquaintance she 
had made in Rome five years before, and who had now 
lately been received into the Roman Communion. Manning 
put himself into communication with his friend, the Abbe 
Des Genettes, in Paris. The Abbe obtained leave from the 
Council of the Sisters of Charity for the English lady to 
study their institutions. It had been explained to him 
that Miss Nightingale was also desirous of studying the 
hospitals in Paris. The Abbe accordingly selected a House 
belonging to the Sisters which would offer every advantage 
in this respect. Her cousin. Miss Hilary Bonham Carter, 
who was intent on the study of art and had been invited to 
stay with M. and Madame Mohl, was to accompany her to 
Paris ; and Lady Augusta Bruce was also to be of the party. 
It was in the salon of Madame Mohl that Lady Augusta 
met her future husband, Dean Stanley. 

Thus, then, it had been arranged. The necessary 
authorization from the Sisters had been obtained in Septem- 
ber. The start was to be made in November. But as the 
time approached, Mrs. Nightingale drew back. She wrote 


of the plan, not as something agreed upon, but as a new 
proposition. " I am afraid," she said to Aunt Mai, " that 
Flo is thinking of some new expedition, perhaps to Paris. 
I cannot make up my mind to it." Florence was staying 
at a friend's house in London. Her father came in, and 
reported that her mother was greatly distressed. There was 
company coming to Embley, and could Florence have the 
heart to leave her mother ? " Parthe would be in hysterics." 
Every one would be in despair. Could she not delay ? An 
aged kinswoman, moreover, was ill, as already related. 
Florence yielded, perhaps more to this last consideration 
than to the others, and the start was postponed. There 
was a lingering hope that the expedition to Paris might be 
abandoned, and a suggestion was made to that end. Why 
must Florence go to the Sisters, and Roman Catholic Sisters, 
too — abroad ? Why should she not stay at home, and con- 
duct some small institution on her own account ? There 
was a house available for such a purpose at Cromford Bridge, 
close to their own Lea Hurst, and Mr. Nightingale would 
provide the necessary funds. In this way the best might 
be made of both worlds — of theirs, and of hers. Florence 
was touched, but remained of her own mind : — 

{To her sister.) January 3. Oh, my dearest Pop, I wish I 
could tell you how I love you and thank you for your kind 
thoughts as received in your letter to-day. If you did but know 
how genial it is to me, when my dear people give me a hope of 
their blessing and that they would speed me on my way ! as 
the kind thought of Cromford seems to say they are ready to do. 
I will write to Mama about Paris and Cromford. My Pop, 
whether at one or the other, my heart will be with thee. Now 
if these seem mere words, because bodily I shall be leaving you, 
have patience with me, my dearest. I hope that you and I shall 
live to prove a true love to each other. I cannot, during the 
year's round, go the way which (for my sake, I know) you have 
wished. There have been times when, for your dear sake, I 
have tried to stifle the thoughts which I feel ingrained in my 
nature. But, if that may not be, I hope that something better 
shall be. If I ask your blessing on a part of my time for my 
absence, I hope to be all the happier with you for that absence 
when we are together. 

Miss Nightingale refused Cromford Bridge House : it 


was most unsuitable for the purpose; the only more un- 
suitable place was the " Forest Lodge " at Embley, which 
her sister Parthe had suggested. In the followmg year, 
Florence joined the Sisters of Charity in Paris. And thus, 
after many struggles and delays, was she launched upon her 
true work in the world. 


(1853-Octobcr 1854) 

Lo, as some venturer from his stars receiving 
Promise and presage of sublime emprise. 

Wears evermore the seal of his beheving 
Deep in the dark of solitary eyes. 

F. W. H. Myers. 

The institution in which Florence Nightingale was to serve 
her apprenticeship in Paris was the Maison de la Providence, 
belonging to the Soeurs de la Charite in the Rue Oudinot 
(No. 5), Faubourg St. Germain. The Abbe Des Genettes 
described in a letter to Manning the attractions which it 
would offer to his protegee. The principal House, managed 
by twenty Sisters, received nearly two hundred poor orphans, 
and also conducted a creche. A hospital was attached to it, 
next door, for aged and sick women. Within ten minutes' 
walk Miss Nightingale would find two other hospitals, one 
a general hospital, the other a children's hospital. The 
English demoiselle would conform, in accordance with her 
desire, to the rules of the House as a postulante, rendering 
all necessary service to the sick. The only restrictions were 
that she would not be able to enter the refectory or the 
dormitory of the Sisters. She would have to sleep and take 
her meals in her own room. But she would be free to visit 
the poor in company with the Sisters, to serve the sick under 
their direction in various hospitals and infirmaries, and to 
assist in the care of the orphans alike in class and at play. 
Such was the life in Paris to which Miss Nightingale was 
looking forward eagerly. She left London for Paris on 
February 3, 1853, with her cousin. Miss Bonham Carter, and 



they stayed with M. and Madame Mohl in the Rue du Bac. 
Before entering the Maison de la Providence, Miss Nightin- 
gale desired to visit and study other institutions in Paris. 
She was armed with a comprehensive permit from the 
Administration Generale de I'Assistance Publique to study 
in all the hospitals of the city. She availed herself indefatig- 
ably of this permission, spending her days in inspecting 
hospitals, infirmaries, and religious houses, and having the 
advantage of seeing the famous Paris surgeons at their 
work. Now, as at all times, she was a diligent collector 
and student of reports, returns, statistics, pamphlets. 
Among her papers of this date are elaborately tabulated 
analyses of hospital organization and nursing arrangements 
both in France and in Germany, and a circular of questions 
bearing on the same subjects which she seems to have 
addressed to the principal institutions in the United King- 
dom. Her evenings were spent in company with her host 
and hostess. There were soirees dansantes in the Rue du 
Bac. She went once or twice with Madame Mohl to balls 
elsewhere, and also to the opera. She met many English 
visitors and distinguished Parisians. Having completed 
her general inquiries into the Paris hospitals, she presented 
herself to the Reverend Mother of the Maison de la Pro- 
vidence, and had arranged a day for her admission, when 
she was suddenly recalled to England by the illness of her 
grandmother, who died at the age of ninety-five, " Great 
has been the occasion for Flo's usefulness," wrote Mr, 
Nightingale to his wife. And " I shall never be thankful 
enough," wrote Florence herself to her cousin in Paris, 
" that I came, I was able to make her be moved and 
changed, and to do other little things which perhaps 
smoothed the awful passage, and which perhaps would not 
have been done as well without me." A family event of a 
different kind interested Miss Nightingale at this time. Her 
cousin Blanche Shore Smith had become engaged to Arthur 
Hugh Clough, Miss Nightingale greatly Hked him. As a 
long engagement seemed likely. Miss Nightingale interested 
herself in the future of the young couple ; discussing the 
proper limits of parental allowances in such matters ; draw- 
ing up elaborately detailed estimates of household expendi- 


ture, not forgetting to include future charges for a young 
family, as by the statistics of the average birth-rate they 
might be calculated. Statistics were already almost a 
passion with her. 


Negotiations were now on foot for Miss Nightingale to 
take charge of a benevolent institution in London, and 
Madame Mohl advised her to keep in their places the great 
ladies who were concerned in it. Neither now, nor at any 
time, was she much in love with committees, but not every 
word in the following account of the negotiations need be 
taken very seriously : — 

{To Madame Mohl.) Lea Hurst, April 8. In all that you 
say I cordially agree, and if you knew what the " fashionable 
asses " have been doing, their " offs " and their " ons," poor 
fools ! you would say so ten times more. I shall be truly grateful 
if you will write to Pop — my people know as much of the affair 
now as I do — which is not much. You see the F.A.S. (or A.F.S., 
which will stand for " ancient fathers " and be more respectful, 
as they are all Puseyites), the F.A.S. want me to come up to 
London now and look at them, and if we suit to come very soon 
into the Sanatorium, which, I am afraid, will preclude my coming 
back to Paris, especially if you are coming away soon, for going 
there without you would unveil all my iniquities, as the F.A.S. 
are quite as much afraid of the R.C.'s as my people are. It 
is no use telling you the history of the negotiations, which are 
enough to make a comedy in 50 acts. They may be summed 
up as I once heard an Irish shoeless boy translate Virgil : 
Ohstupui, " I was althegither bothered " — steteruntque comae, 
" and my hair stood up like the bristles of a pig " — vox faiicihus 
haesit, " and divil a word could I say." Well, divil a bit of a 
word can I say except that you are very good, dear friend, to 
take so much interest, and that I shall be truly glad if you will 
write to Pop, . . . dans le sens du muscle. 

All your advice, which I sent to Mrs. Bracebridge, I give 
my profoundest adhesion to — I would gladly point the finger 
of scorn in the liveliest manner at the F.A.S. and ride them 
roughshod round Grosvenor Sq. I will even do my very 
best — but I am afraid it is not in me to do it as I should wish. 
It would be only a poor feint — a mean Caricature. But I will 
practise and you shall see me. 

My people are now at 30 Old Burlington Street, where I shall 
be in another week. Please write to them there, and if you can 


do a little quacking for me to them, the same will be thankfully 
received, in order that I may come in, when I arrive, not with my 
tail between my legs, but gracefully curved round me, in the old 
way in which Perugino's Devil wears it, in folds round the waist. 
I am afraid I must live at the place. If I don't, it will be a 
half and half measure which will satisfy no one. However, I 
shall take care to be perfectly free to clear off, without its being 
considered a failure, at my own time. I can give you no par- 
ticulars, dearest friend, because I don't know any. I can 
only say that, unless I am left a free agent and am to organize 
the thing myself and not they, I wiU have nothing to do with it. 
But as the thing is yet to be organized, I cannot lay a plan either 
before you or my people. And that rather perplexes them, 
as they want to make conditions that I shan't do this or that. 
If you would " well present " my plans, as you say, to them, 
it would be an inestimable benefit both to them and to me. . . . 
Hilhe will tell you all I know^that it is a Sanatorium for sick 
f governesses managed by a Committee of fine ladies. But there 
I are no surgeon-students nor improper patients there at all, 
which is, of course, a great recommendation in the eyes of the 
J 1 Proper, The Patients, or rather the Impatients, for I know 
' '\ what it is to nurse sick ladies, are all pay patients, poor friendless 
folk in London. I am to have the choosing of the house, the 
appointment of the Chaplain and the management of the funds, 
as the F.A.S. are at present minded. But Isaiah himself could 
not prophesy how they will be minded at 8 o'clock this evening. 

What specially annoyed Miss Nightingale was that 
some of the fashionable ladies in the course of gossip had 
begun to wonder whether her appointment would have the 
approval of her family. Some officious friend had suggested 
that " it would be cruel to take her away from her home." 
This difficulty was disposed of by Miss Nightingale's assur- 
ance that the appointment would be submitted to the 
approval of her mother and father. Her father now agreed 
> i to make her an independent allowance, paid quarterly in 
^ </^ I advance. It was on a scale sufficiently liberal to enable 
her to offer her services to the Institution entirely gratui- 
tously. She also agreed to pay all the charges (board and 
lodging included) of the matron (Mrs. Clarke), whom she 
i was to bring with her. Another difficulty was then raised. 
' The superintendent of a nursing-home ought to be present 
when the doctors went their rounds and when operations 
were performed. But would it be seemly for a gentlewoman 


to do this ? Miss Nightingale insisted, and an agreement 
was arrived at in April. She was to enter upon her duties 
as superintendent as soon as new premises had been secured, 
and meanwhile she was free to resume her studies in Paris. 


She returned to Paris on May 30, and after a week spent 
with M. and Madame Mohl, during which she again inspected 
various hospitals, she entered the Maison de la Providence 
in the Rue Oudinot on June 8. From Paris she kept up 
correspondence with regard to the new premises for the 
institution in London. " The indispensable conditions of 
a suitable house are," she wrote to Lady Canning (June 5), 
"first, that the nurse should never be obliged to quit her 
floor, except for her own dinner and supper, and her patients' 
dinner and supper (and even the latter might be avoided by 
the windlass we have talked about). Without a system of 
this kind, the nurse is converted into a pair of legs. Secondly, 
That the bells of the patients should all ring in the passage 
outside the nurse's own door on that story, and should have 
a valve which flies open when its bell rings, and remains 
open in order that the nurse may see who has rung." The 
letter continues for some pages to describe other require- 
ments — about a hot-water supply and the like ; points which 
are now in the A B C of hospitals or nursing-homes, but 
which then were novel counsels of perfection. The idea of 
a lift, in particular, was new ; inquiries were made by the 
ladies in various parts of the country, and there were many 
hitches before a suitable apparatus was installed. The 
correspondence is significant of the attention to practical 
detail which characterized all Miss Nightingale's work. 
Meanwhile her work with the Sisters of Charity among the 
poor came to a tiresome pause. The nurse had herself to 
be nursed. The nature of the calamity is described in a 
letter to Madame Mohl, who was paying visits in England 
at the time : — 

Back Drawing-room at Madame Mohl's, Rue du Bag 120, 
June 28. My Dearest Friend — Do you see where I am ? 
Here's a " go " ! Has M. Mohl told you ? Here am I in bed 


in your back drawing-room. Poor M. Mohl appears to bear 
it with wonderful equanimity and recueillement, like his danseuse. 
Not so I. It is the most impertinent, the most surprising, the 
most inopportune thing I have ever done — me established in a 
lady's house in her absence, to be ill. If M. Mohl had any sins, 
I should think I was the avenging Phooka appointed to castigate 
him — as he has none, I am obliged to arrest myself at the other 
supposition that it is for my own. It was not my fault though 
really. Here is how the things have happened. . . . 

I have had the measles at the Soeurs. And, of all my 
adventures, of which I have had many and queer, as will be 
(never) recorded in the Book of my Wanderings, the dirtiest 
and the queerest I have ever had has been a measles in the cell 
of a Soeur de la Charite. They were very land to me — and dear 
M. Mohl wrote to me almost every day, and sent me tea (which, 
however, they would not let me have), and he lastly, in his 
paternity, would have me back (where I came yesterday), and 
estabUshed me in the back drawing-room, to my infinite horror, 
and now I am getting better very fast, and mean to be out again 
in a day or two. I had got rid of the eruption and all that before 
I came. Mr. Mohl is so kind and comes to see me and talk, 
which I suppose is very improper, but I can't help it, and he has 
been hke a father to me and never was such a father ! I really 
am so ashamed of aU his kindness, and the trouble I give them, 
that my brazen old face blushes crimson, and I assure you this 
paper ought to be red. Juhe [the servant] is very kind to me. 
But I hope not to be long on their hands. As to my calamity 
itself, it is Uke the Mariage de Mademoiselle : who could have 
foreseen it ? It really was not my fault. There was no measles 
at any of my posts, and I had had them not eighteen months ago, 
so that, erect in the consciousness of that dignity, I should not 
have kept out of their way, if I had seen them. The Dr. would 
not beUeve I could have had them before. Well, I'm so ashamed 
of myself that I shall lock myself up for the rest of my hfe, and 
never go nowhere no more. For you see, it's evident that 
Providence, who was always in my way, and who, as the 
Superieure said, is tres admirable (meaning wonderful) in having 
done this, does not mean me to come to Paris nor to the Soeurs, 
having twice made me ill when I was doing so — and given you 
all this trouble. For me to come to Paris to have the measles 
a second time, is like going to the Grand Desert to die of getting 
one's feet wet, or anything most unexpected. . . . Please write 
to M. Mohl, and comfort him for his disaster. I am so repentant 
that I can say nothing — which, the Catholics tell me, is the 
" marque " of a true " humiliation." Thank you a thousand times 
for all your kindness. I come to England next week. F. N. 


M. Mohl required no comfort. Miss Nightingale's 
father wi-ote to thank him for his kindness to her. The 
kindness, he gallantly replied, was on her side in giving 
him the advantage of her society and conversation. " Her 
gentle manner," he wrote (July 25), " covers such a depth 
and strength of mind and thought, that I am afraid of 
nothing for her, but that her health should fail her." 


Convalescence was rapid. On July 13 she returned 
to London, and a month later, on August 12, 1853, Miss 
Nightingale went into residence in her first " situation." 
The place in question, already briefly described in one of 
her letters to Madame Mohl, was that of Superintendent of 
an " Establishment for Gentlewomen during Illness." This 
institution had been founded a few years before, at 8 Chandos 
Street, Cavendish Square, to give medical assistance and 
a home to sick governesses and other gentlewomen of narrow 
means. It was managed by a Council, which in its turn 
appointed a " Committee of Ladies " and a " Committee of 
Gentlemen." We need not trouble ourselves with the re- 
lations between the two committees, though they much 
troubled Miss Nightingale ; but it is characteristic of the 
ideas of the time that the ladies made over to the gentlemen 
" all payments, contracts, and financial arrangements," as 
also " the selection of medical officers and male servants." 
Some years later Kinglake devoted several pages of his most 
elaborate satire to a comparison of the male pretensions 
and the female performances in their respective spheres in 
the hospitals of the Crimea ; but on the present occasion Miss 
Nightingale found the ladies more difficult than the gentlemen. 
The institution had languished in Chandos Street. She was 
called in to give it new hfe. Suitable new premises had been 
found at No. i Upper Harley Street, and there Miss Nightin- 
gale lived, with a few brief intervals, until October 1854. 
She had also a pied-a-terre in some lodgings taken for her by 
her aunt in Pall Mall, where she occasionally saw her friends, 
and whither she resorted on Sunday mornings, in order not 
to scandaHze the patients in Harley Street by being known 



not to go to church. She had stipulated for extensive 
powers of control, and she was not one to let any agreed 
powers suffer diminution from desuetude. The ladies on 
the Council and the Committee included (besides Lady- 
Canning already mentioned) Lady Ellesmere, Lady Cran- 
worth, Lady Monteagle, Lady Caroline Murray, and others 
well known in the worlds of society and philanthropy. 
Miss Nightingale had her special friends and allies among 
them, such as Lady Canning and Lady Inglis, and Mrs. 
Sidney Herbert presently joined the Committee in order 
to lend her support. Since their meeting in Rome, Mrs. 
Herbert and Miss Nightingale had seen much of each other, 
for Wilton House was within calling distance of Embley. 
Miss Nightingale had assisted at the birth of one of Mrs. 
Herbert's children ; and amongst Miss Nightingale's papers 
belonging to this period is a " Syllabus of Religious Teaching 
for a Girls' School," which they had adapted from the 
Madre S. Colomba's lessons to girls. Mrs. Herbert now wrote 
from Wilton, offering to come up to a committee meeting : 
" I thought some wicked cats might be there who would set 
up their backs ; and if so, I should like to have mine up too." 
And, again: " I hope you will write to me, dearest Flo, should 
any little difficulties arise whilst we are out of town." 

Difficulties did arise in plenty, but Miss Nightingale was 
sometimes peremptory, and at other times showed herself a 
master in the gentle art of managing committees : — 

{To Madame Mohl.) i Upper Haeley St., August 20. , . . 
Clarkey dear, I would write, but I can't. \.^I have had to prepare 
this immense house for patients in ten days — without a bit of 
help but only hindrance from my Committee, If M. Mohl 
would write a book upon EngUsh societies, I would supply him 
with such Statistics as would astonish even him. But it's no 
use talking about these things, and I've no time. I have been 
" in service " ten days, and have had to furnish an entirely 
empty house in that time. We take in patients this Monday, 
and have not got our workmen out yet. 
I My Committee refused me to take in Catholic patients — 

' whereupon I wished them good-morning, unless I might take in 
Jews and their Rabbis to attend them. So now it is settled, 
and in print, that we are to take in all denominations whatever, 
and allow them to be visited by their respective priests and 


Muftis, provided / will receive (in any case whatsoever that is 
not of the Church of England) the obnoxious animal at the door, 
take him upstairs myself, remain while he is conferring with 
his patient, make myself responsible that he does not speak to, 
or look at, any one else, and bring him downstairs again in a noose, 
and out into the street. And to this I have agreed ! And this 
is in print ! 

Amen. From Committees, charity, and Schism — from 
the Church of England and all other deadly sin — from phil- 
anthropy and all the deceits of the Devil, Good Lord, deliver us. 

In great haste, ever yours overflowingly. It will do me 
so much good to see a good man again. 

{To her Father.) i Upper Harley St., December 3 [1853]. 
Dear Papa — You ask for my observations upon my Une of 
statesmanship. I have been so very busy that I have scarcely 
made any resume in my own mind, but upon doing so now for 
your benefit, I perceive : — 

When I entered into service here, I determined that, happen 
what would, I never would intrigue among the Committee. 
Now I perceive that I do all my business by intrigue. I propose 
in private to A, B, or C the resolution I think A, B, or C most 
capable of carrying in committee, and then leave it to them, 
and I always win. 

I am now in the hey-day of my power. At the last General 
Committee they proposed and carried (without my knowing 
anything about it) a resolution that I should have £50 per 
month to spend for the House, and wrote to the Treasurer to 
advance it me. Whereupon I wrote to the Treasurer to refuse 
it me. Lady , who was my greatest enemy, is now, I under- 
stand, trumpeting my fame through London. And all because 
I have reduced their expenditure from is. lod. per head per 
day LO IS. The opinions of others concerning you depend, not 
at all, or very little, upon what you are, but upon what they are. 
Praise and blame are alike indifferent to me, as constituting an 
indication of what myself is, though very precious as the indica- 
tion of the other's feeling. . . . 

Last General Committee I executed a series of Resolutions 
on five subjects, and presented them as coming from the Medical 
Men : — 

1. That the successor to our House Surgeon (resigned) should 

be a dispenser, and dispense the medicines in the 
house, saving our bill at the druggist's of £150 per 

2. A series of House Rules, of which I send you the rough 



3. A series of resolutions about not keeping patients, of which 

I send you the foul copy. 

4. A complete revolution as to Diet, which is shamefully 

abused at present. 

5. An advertisement for the Institution, of which I send 

the foul copy. 

All these I proposed and carried in Committee, without 
telHng them that they came from me and not from the Medical 
Men ; and then, and not till then, I showed them to the Medical 
Men, without telling them that they were already passed in 

It was a bold stroke, but success is said to make an insurrection 
into a revolution. The Medical Men have had two meetings 
upon them, and approved them all nem. con., and thought they 
were their own. And I came off with flying colours, no one 
suspecting my intrigue, which of course would ruin me were 
it known, as there is as much jealousy in the Committee of one 
another, and among the Medical Men of one another, as ever 
what's his name had of Marlborough. 

I have also carried my point of having good, harmless Mr. 

as Chaplain ; and no young curate to have spiritual flirtations 
with my young ladies. 

And so much for the earthquakes in this little mole-hill of 

[To her Father.) ... I send you some more documentary 
evidence — the tail of my Quarterly Report. My Committee 
are such children in administration that I am obliged to tell 
them such obvious truths as are contained in what / make the 
Medical Men say. This place is exactly like the administering of 
the Poor Law. We have cases of purely lazy fits and cases deserted 
by their families. And my Committee have not the courage to 
discharge a single case. They say the Medical Men must do it. 
The Medical Men say they won't, although the cases, they say, 
must be discharged. And I always have to do it, as the stop-gap 
on all occasions. 

By such arts, and by such readiness to shoulder re- 
sponsibility. Miss Nightingale reduced chaos to order, and 
her management of the Institution won praise in all quarters. 
It was hard work, for the Lady Superintendent was here, 
there, and everywhere, shepherding those who had cure 
of souls, managing the nurses, assisting at operations, 
checking waste in the coal-cellar or the larder. When a 
thing wanted to be done, she did it herself. Mrs. Herbert 


heard with anxiety that her friend had strained her back by 
Hfting a patient, though she was suffering from lumbago at 
the time. There were smaller worries too. The British 
workman, and the British tradesman also, tried her sorely. 
" The chemists," she wrote to her father, " sent me a bottle 
of ether labelled S. spirits of nitre, which, if I had not smelt 
it, I should certainly have administered, and should have 
had an inquiry into poisoning. And the whole flue of a new 
gas-stove came down the second time of using it, which, if I 
had not caught it in my arms, would certainly have killed 
a patient." Then there were the anxieties necessarily 
incident to a nursing home. " We have had an awful dis- 
appointment," she wrote to her father (1854), " i^i ^ couching 
for a cataract, which has failed. The eye is lost (through no 
fault of Bo\MTian's), and I am left, after a most anxious 
watching, with a poor blind woman on my hands, whom we 
have blinded, and with a prospect of insanity. I had rather 
ten times have killed her. These are the cases, not those 
like the poor German who died, which make our lives so 
anxious." What was afterwards to characterize her work 
in a larger field was already observed in Harley Street. It 
was the combination of masterful powers of organization 
with womanly gentleness and sympathy. Letters of grati- 
tude, which she received from patients after their discharge 
from Harley Street, speak of her " unwearied and affection- 
ate attention." They were often addressed to her as " My 
good, dear, and faithful Friend," or " My darhng Mother." 
And a friend and mother she was indeed to many of the 
young women who came under her care. She had a large 
and influential circle of friends and acquaintances, and she 
was indefatigable in finding convalescent homes or sympa- 
thetic care, or openings in the Colonies, for those who stood 
in need of such assistance. She was much interested in the 
scheme for Female Emigration, which Sidney Herbert had 
started in 1849, and in which he and his wife superintended 
every detail. ^ 

Though the work was hard and the anxieties many. Miss 
Nightingale did not lose heart. " Our vocation is a difficult 
one," she wrote to Miss Nicholson (Jan. 10, 1854), " ^-S you, 

^ See Stanmore, vol. i. pp. 111-120. 


I am sure, know ; and though there are many consolations, 
and very high ones, the disappointments are so numerous 
that we require all our faith and trust. But that is enough. 
I have never repented nor looked back, not for one moment. 
And I begin the New Year with more true feeling of a happy 
New Year than ever I had in my life." She had found her 
vocation. But her family had not yet quite fully accepted 
it. On their side there was still some looking back. Her 
father, indeed, took pride in his daughter's success, and the 
correspondence between them at this time is very pleasant. 
He was himself a county magistrate, concerned in the 
administration of hospitals and asylums ; and he followed 
every move in his daughter's strategy with lively interest. 
He admired her masterfulness, but was not quite sure that 
she might not carry it too far. " You will have," he wrote, 
" to govern by a representative system after all. In England 
we go this way to work, and a good way it is, for a good 
autocrat is only to be found at intervals. Despots do 
nothing in teaching others. Republicans keep teaching 
each other all day long." He was most sympathetic in her 
difficulties, but he was not sure that those about him would 
be so. There is a postscript in one of his letters which tells 
a good deal between the lines : " Better write to me at the 
Athenaeum so as not to excite inquiry." Her mother and 
sister seem to have thought that while they were in London 
Florence might have lived at home, or, at any rate, have 
often been with them. Why should she be wearing herself 
out away from them ? Their point of view was put by 
Madame Mohl, who was the affectionate friend of both 
sisters : — 

{To Madame Mohl.) Harley Street, y-l«^ws^ 27 [1853]. . . . 
I have not taken this step, Clarkey dear, without years of anxious 
consideration. It is the result of the experience of years and of 
the fullest and deepest thought ; it has not been done without 
advice, and it is a step, which, being the growth of so long, is 
not likely to be repented of or reconsidered. I mean the step 
of leaving them. I do not wish to talk about it — and this is the 
last time I shall ever do so, but as you ask me a plain question, 
Clarkey dear, I will give you a plain answer. I have talked 
matters over (" made a clean breast," as you express it) with 
Parthe, not once hut thousands of times. Years and years have 


been spent in doing so. It has been, therefore, with the deepest 
consideration and with the fullest advice that I have taken the 
step of leaving home, and it is a fait accompli. With regard to 
" my sacrificing my peace and comfort," it is true that I am here 
entirely for their sakes. But to serve my coimtry in this way 
has been also the object of my hfe, though I should not have done 
it in this time or manner. But it is not a sacrifice any more 
than that I have done a thing in a bad way, which I should fain 
have done in a good one. For this is sure to fail. So farewell, 
Clarkey dear, don't let us talk any more about this. It is, as I 
said before, a. fait accompli. 

Having at so great difficulty won her freedom, Florence 
clearly felt that any policy of half-and-half now might 
necessitate in the future a renewal of the struggle. Her 
sister was still in very delicate health, and Florence was 
advised, by the family doctor himself, that her visits involved 
much disturbing excitement. Besides, the work at Harley 
Street, if it was to be done efficiently, required constant 
residence and unremitting attention. And it was written : 
" He that loveth father or mother more than me is not 
worthy of me." 

In August 1854 Miss Nightingale took a few days' holiday 
at Lea Hurst, where Mrs. Gaskell, the authoress, was on a 
visit to Mr. and Mrs. Nightingale. It was then that Mrs. 
Gaskell wTote the description of Florence's personal appear- 
ance, which has already been given (p. 39). Mrs. Gaskell 
was struck no less by the beauty of her character. She 
gave a sketch of Miss Nightingale's career, and then con- 
tinued : " Is it not hke St. Elizabeth of Hungary ? The 
efforts of her family to interest her in other occupations by 
allowing her to travel, etc. — but the clinging to one object ! 
She must be a creature of another race, so high and angelic, 
doing things by impulse or some divine inspiration, not by 
effort and struggle of will. But she seems almost too holy 
to be talked about as a mere wonder. Mrs. Nightingale says 
with tears in her eyes (alluding to Andersen's Fairy Tales), 
that they are ducks, and have hatched a wild swan. She 
seems as completely led by God as Joan of Arc. I never 
heard of any one like her. It makes me feel the livingness of 


God more than ever to think how straight He is sending 
His Spirit down into her as into the prophets and saints of 
old. ..." And in another letter : ^ " I am glad that Miss 
likes North and South. I did not think Margaret was 

so over good. What would she say to Florence Nightingale ? 
I can't imagine ! for there is intellect such as I never came 
in contact with before in woman ! — only twice in man — 
great beauty, and of her holy goodness who is fit to speak ? " 
A famous writer has said of the saints, that the greatest and 
most helpful of them have always shown some wit or 
humour ; ^ and of Florence Nightingale Mrs. Gaskell noted 
further : " She has a great deal of fun, and is carried along 
by that, I think. She mimics most capitally." 

Miss Nightingale cut short her holiday on hearing that 
an epidemic of cholera had broken out in London. She 
volunteered to give help with the cholera patients in the 
Middlesex Hospital. She was up day and night receiving 
the women patients — chiefly, it seems, outcasts in the dis- 
trict of Soho — undressing them, and ministering to them. 
The epidemic, however, subsided, and she returned to her 
normal work in Harley Street. 


The work there did not fail within its appointed scope, 
but in another way the failure which Miss Nightingale had 
predicted in her letter to Madame Mohl soon became 
apparent. The scale of the undertaking was more restricted 
than Florence had desired, and she saw no means of widening 
it. She had wanted to receive patients of all classes, to 
enrol many volunteer nurses, to have opportunities for 
training them. Among a wide circle, both at home and 
abroad, her knowledge and her talents were well under- 
stood ; and already, in her correspondence for a year or 
two past, she appears as a woman to whom reference was 
made as to one speaking with authority. A missionary in 
Paris applied to her for two well-qualified matrons. " Alas," 
she had to reply, " I have no fish of that kind." She was 

^ To Catherine Winkworth, Jan. i, 1855. 
- See Ruskin's Works, vol. xxxi. p. 386, vol. xxxii. p. 72. 


making the most of her present opportunity, but it was 
narrow. Some of her friends had thought from the first that 
she was wasting her powers on unsuitable soil in Harley 
Street. Monckton Milnes, who paid a visit to Embley in 
December 1853, WTote to his wife : " They talk quite easily 
about Florence, but her position does not seem very suitable. 
I wish we could put her at the head of a Juvenile Reforma- 
tory." 1 Her own primary object was to train nurses ; and 
other friends — Mrs. Bracebridge among the number — ad- 
vised her to leave Harley Street, since there she found no 
scope for so doing. King's College Hospital had just been 
rebuilt, and another friend. Miss Louisa Twining, opened 
negotiations in August 1854 for securing Miss Nightingale's 
appointment as Superintendent of Nurses there. Some of 
the medical men, who had been impressed at Harley Street 
with her rare combination of gifts, were most anxious that 
she should consent to take up such a post. Dr. William 
Bowman in particular strongly pressed her, and was con- 
fident that, if she agreed, he could get the appointment en 
train in the autumn. I\Iiss Nightingale's mother and sister 
sought as strongly to dissuade her. The sister laid stress 
on Florence's " doubtful health." The mother added ob- 
jections on the score of the medical students. They both 
urged that, if she must do something of the kind, Great 
Ormond Street and work among children were more suitable 
and convenient. Florence herself was greatly drawn to 
King's College Hospital, and began devising plans, on the 
model of Kaiserswerth, for enrolling a staff of nurses among 
farmers' daughters. 

But the immediate future hid in it another fate for 
Florence Nightingale. " Thy lot or portion in life," said 
the Caliph Ali, " is seeking after thee ; therefore be at rest 
from seeking after it." So Miss Nightingale may have read 
in Emerson ; and in homelier phrase her good Aunt Mai had 
said to her, " If you will but be ready for it, something is 
getting ready for you, and will be sure to turn up in time." 
Which things Florence, I doubt not, laid up in her heart. 
When news began to arrive from the East, did she recall a 
prophecy which had been made about her by a friend long 

^ Life of Lord Houghton, vol. i. p. 491. 

142 A PROPHECY px.i 

before the Crimean War was dreamt of ? Lady Lovelace, 
the daughter of Lord Byron, the " Ada sole daughter of my 
home and heart," had, before her death in 1852, written 
a poem in honour of her friend, Florence Nightingale. I 
have quoted some of it already. The piece ends with a 
presage : — 

In future years, in distant climes, 

Should war's dread strife its victims claim, 

Should pestilence, unchecked betimes, 

Strike more than sword, than cannon maim. 

He who then reads these truthful rhymes 
Will trace her progress to undying fame. 




Wlio is the happy Warrior ? Who is he 

That every man in arms should wish to be ? 

— It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought 

Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought 

Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought . . 

Or if an unexpected call succeed. 

Come when it will, is equal to the need. 



(October 1854) 

Not for delectations sweet, 
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious, 
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment, 

Pioneers ! O pioneers ! 

Walt Whitman. 

On September 20 the Battle of the Alma was fought, and 
the country, as Greville noted, was " in a fever of excite- 
ment." The disembarkation of the allied British and French 
forces for the invasion of the Crimea had begun on the 14th. 
Their advance was not resisted until they reached the bank 
of the Alma, where the Russian commander was awaiting 
attack, in so strong a position that he was confident of 
victory. In less than three hours the allied troops had driven 
the enemy from every part of the ground. Lord Raglan, 
the Commander of the Forces, congratulated the troops on 
" the brilliant success that attended their unrivalled efforts 
in the battle, on which occasion they carried a most formid- 
able position, defended by large masses of Russian infantry, 
and a most powerful and numerous artillery." The river 
which the Russian commander had hoped to make the grave 
of the invaders became famous in the annals of British 
valour : — 

Thou, on England's banners blazoned with the famous fields of old, 
Shalt, where other fields are winning, wave above the brave and bold ; 
And our sons unborn shall nerve them for some great deed to be done. 
By that twentieth of September, when the Alma's heights were won. 
O thou river ! dear for ever to the gallant, to the free. 
Alma 1 roll thy waters proudly, proudly roll them to the sea 1 
VOL. I 145 L 


Nearly forty years had passed since the British army 
had been engaged in European warfare. The Battle of the 
Alma, though it disclosed little tactical skill, and though it 
was not followed up as it might have been, had at any rate 
shown the desperate courage of the British soldier. The 
note of exultation which inspired the verses of Archbishop 
Trench expressed the popular mood. 

Presently there was a change. The number of killed 
and wounded was very large ; but though many homes were 
thrown into mourning, it was felt, in the words of the official 
bulletin, that such a victory " could not be achieved without 
a considerable sacrifice." The country did not at the time 
grudge the sacrifice ; but Lord Raglan's dispatch was 
followed by another. The Crimean War was the first in 
which the " Special Correspondent " played a conspicuous 
part, and the dispatches sent to the Times by Mr, William 
Howard Russell availed even to overthrow a Ministry, 
In the Times of October 9, attention was drawn to the 
futility of the nursing arrangements on the British side. 
The old pensioners, who had been sent out for such ser- 
vice, were " not of the slightest use " ; the soldiers had to 
" attend upon each other." On the 12th a long letter 
from " Our Special Correspondent," dated " Constantinople, 
September 30," ended with the following passage : — 

It is with feelings of surprise and anger that the public will 
learn that no sufficient preparations have been made for the 
proper care of the wounded. Not only are there not sufficient 
surgeons — that, it might be urged, was unavoidable ; not only 
are there no dressers and nurses — that might be a defect of system 
for which no one is to blame ; but what will be said when it is 
known that there is not even linen to make bandages for the 
wounded ? The greatest commiseration prevails for the suffer- 
ings of the unhappy inmates of Scutari, and every family is 
giving sheets and old garments to supply their wants. But 
why could not this clearly foreseen want have been supplied ? 
Can it be said that the Battle of the Alma has been an event to 
take the world by surprise ? Has not the expedition to the 
Crimea been the talk of the last four months ? And when the 
Turks gave up to our use the vast barracks to form a hospital 
and depot, was it not on the ground that the loss of the English 
troops was sure to be considerable when engaged in so dangerous 
an enterprise ? And yet, after the troops have been six months 


in the country, there is no preparation for the commonest surgical 
operations ! Not only are the men kept, in some cases, for a 
week without the hand of a medical man coming near their 
wounds ; not only are they left to expire in agony, unheeded 
and shaken off, though catching desperately at the surgeon 
whenever he makes his rounds through the fetid ship ; but now, 
when they are placed in the spacious building, where we were 
led to believe that everything was ready which could ease their 
pain or facilitate their recovery, it is found that the commonest 
appliances of a workhouse sick-ward are wanting, and that the 
men must die through the medical staff of the British army 
having forgotten that old rags are necessary for the dressing of 
wounds. If Parliament were sitting, some notice would probably 
be taken of these facts, which are notorious and have excited 
much concern ; as it is, it rests with the Government to make 
inquiries into the conduct of those who have so greatly neglected 
their duty. 

On the following day a further letter from the " Special 
Correspondent " was published. "It is impossible," he 
wrote, " for any one to see the melancholy sights of the last 
few days without feelings of surprise and indignation at 
the deficiencies of our medical system. The manner in 
which the sick and wounded are treated is worthy only of 
the savages of Dahomey. . . . The worn-out pensioners 
who were brought as an ambulance corps are totally useless, 
and not only are surgeons not to be had, but there are no 
dressers or nurses to carry out the surgeon's directions, 
and to attend on the sick during the intervals between his 
visits. Here the French are greatly our superiors. Their 
medical arrangements are extremely good, their surgeons 
more numerous, and they have also the help of the Sisters 
of Charity, who have accompanied the expedition in incred- 
ible numbers.^ These devoted women are excellent nurses." 
These scathing attacks changed the mood of the country. 
There was still exultation in victory, and still readiness to 
pay its price ; but the " Special Correspondent's " charges 
of neglect towards the sick and wounded raised a feeling 
of bitter resentment — of resentment against the authorities, 
but also of pity for the victims. The Times accompanied 
the " Special Correspondent's " letter on October 12 by 
a leading article, making appeal to its readers, who were 

^ For the actual number, see below, p. 149. 


sitting comfortably at home, to bestir themselves, and 
render such help as might be possible to the soldiers in the 
East. A letter was published next day from Sir Robert Peel, 
who had enclosed £200 to start a fund for supplying the 
sick and wounded with comforts. Other contributions were 
quickly forthcoming, and on October 14 a letter was pub- 
lished asking : " Why have we no Sisters of Charity ? There 
are numbers of able-bodied and tender-hearted English 
women who would joyfully and with alacrity go out to 
devote themselves to nursing the sick and wounded, if they 
could be associated for that purpose, and placed under 
proper protection." 


There were those among the ladies of England who had 
not waited to be stung into action by such appeals. On the 
first news of the failure of the British nursing arrangements, 
they had asked themselves whether they might not help, 
not merely by money, but by personal service. One of the 
first to move was Lady Maria Forester. She must have 
read and marked the letter in the Times on October 9, for 
already by October 11 she had placed herself in communica- 
tion with Miss Nightingale, offering money to send out some 
trained nurses. " I was so anxious something should be 
done," she said to Lady Verney, " that I would have gone 
myself, only I knew that I should not have been the slightest 
use." Happily the minds of those who could be of the 
greatest use were moving in the same direction. If a party 
of women nurses were to be sent out to the East with any 

, prospect of success, there were two persons in England 

; whose co-operation was essential, and by fortunate chance 
they were personal friends. 

One was Mr. Sidney Herbert, the Secretary at War. The 

j preposition which I have placed in italics must be noted. 

j The reader would not thank me for entering at length into 
all the intricacies of War Office organization, disorganization, 
and reorganization, which went on during the Crimean War, 
and have continued to our own day. But this much it is 
necessary to remember, that in 1854 there was a Secretary 
for War (the Duke of Newcastle) and a Secretary at War 


(Mr. Sidney Herbert). The curious part of the arrangement 
was that the Secretary at War had nothing to do with war, 
as such ; he was, technically, only a financial and accounting 
official. But Mr. Sidney Herbert, in the emergency created 
by the Crimean War, stepped courageously beyond the 
strict bounds of his office. He had already shown himself 
by many beneficent measures of practical reform to be the 
Soldiers' Friend. He was deeply interested, as we have 
heard (p. 80), in the care of the sick. He knew how over- 
worked was his colleague, the Duke of Newcastle, and in 
this matter of hospitals he assumed the position of volunteer 
delegate of the Secretary of State. " I wish," wrote Mr. 
Gladstone to Monckton Milnes (Oct. 15, 1855), " that some 
one of the thousand who in prose justly celebrate Miss 
Nightingale would say a single word for the man of ' routine ' 
who devised and projected her going." ^ Lord Stanmore 
has said not a word, but a volume, in that sense ; what was 
truly admirable was " the man of routine's " bold departure 
from routine. The employment of female nurses in the 
army was in this country entirely novel. It would probably 
excite some jealousy in the medical profession ; it was sure 
to be criticized by the military men. The Cabinet had 
much else to think of. The Duke of Newcastle had more 
on his hands than any one human being could properly 
accomplish. Mr. Herbert, from his influence in the Cabinet, 
from his winning manner and general popularity, was the 
man to carry through the new departure. He had pondered 
long over the problems of nursing, both in military hospitals 
and in civil life. He could see no reason why a task, which 
in civil life was entrusted almost exclusively to women, 
should in the case of mihtary hospitals be confined to men. 
The French Government had sent out fifty Sisters of Mercy. 
Mr. Herbert could see no reason why England should not 
do something of a like kind. He determined to make the 

He was strengthened in his resolve by the fact that he 
was intimately acquainted with the character and the 
powers of the second indispensable person. He knew Miss 
Florence Nightingale. The preceding Part of this volume 

^ Life of Lord Houghton, vol. i. p. 521. 


has shown by " what circuit first " her Hfe had been one 
long preparation for precisely such work as was now wanted. 
She and the Minister had read the dispatch in the Times 
with equal, if different, interest. To Mr. Herbert it came 
as a call for something to be done, if the Ministry were to 
avoid dangerous criticism ; and to this motive, which must 
rightly actuate every Minister, there was added the con- 
science of a high-minded man, sincerely and eagerly anxious 
to do all that was possible to improve the treatment of the 
sick and wounded soldiers. To Miss Nightingale, as she 
read the dispatch, and the stirring appeal which accom- 
panied it, the words came with something of the force of 
a call from Above. For nearly ten years of her life she had 
consciously yearned, and half-consciously for a much larger 
period, after ample scope in which to exercise her power of 
organization, and her desire to serve the sick and suffering. 
During many of those years she had been training herself 
so as to be ready to use her opportunity when it should 
occur. And here was the opportunity at hand, in which 
patriotism confirmed her personal aspirations. " God's 
good time " had come. 

The minds of the Minister and of Miss Nightingale were 
kindled together. They reached the flash-point of action 
at almost an identical moment. Private initiative fore- 
stalled official overtures only by a few hours. Working in 
harmony, they carried the scheme into operation with an 
unparalleled rapidity. 


Within two days of the publication of the dispatch from 
Constantinople, Miss Nightingale and her friends had made 
their plans. She submitted them to the Minister in the 
following letter addressed to his wife : — 

{Miss Nightingale to Mrs. Herbert.) i Upper Harley Street, 
October 14 [1854]. My Dearest — I went to Belgrave Square this 
morning for the chance of catching you or Mr. Herbert even, had 
he been in town. 

A small private expedition of nurses has been organized for 
Scutari, and I have been asked to command it. I take myself 
out and one nurse. 


Lady Maria Forester has given ^200 to take out three others. 
We feed and lodge ourselves there, and are to be no expense 
whatever to the country. Lord Clarendon has been asked by 
Lord Palmerston to write to Lord Stratford for us, and has 
consented. Dr. Andrew Smith of the Army Medical Board, 
whom I have seen, authorizes us, and gives us letters to the 
Chief Medical Officer at Scutari. 

I do not mean to say that I believe the Times accounts, but 
I do believe that we may be of use to the wounded wretches. 

Now to business. 

(i) Unless my Ladies' Committee feel that this is a thing 
which appeals to the sympathies of all, and urge me, rather than 
barely consent, I cannot honourably break my engagement here. 
And I write to you as one of my mistresses. 

(2) What does Mr. Herbert say to the scheme itself ? Does 
he think it will be objected to by the authorities ? Would he 
give us any advice or letters of recommendation ? And are 
there any stores for the Hospital he would advise us to take out ? 
Dr. Smith says that nothing is needed. 

I enclose a letter from E. Do you think it any use to apply 
to Miss Burdett Coutts ? 

We start on Tuesday if we go, to catch the Marseilles boat 
of the 2ist for Constantinople, where I leave my nurses, thinking 
the Medical Staff at Scutari will be more frightened than amused 
at being bombarded by a parcel of women, and I cross over to 
Scutari with some one from the Embassy to present my credentials 
from Dr. Smith, and put ourselves at the disposal of the Drs. 

(3) Would you or some one of my Committee write to Lady 
Stratford to say, " This is not a lady but a real Hospital Nurse," 
of me ? " And she has had e.xperience." 

My uncle went down this morning to ask my father and 
mother's consent. 

Would there be any use in my applying to the Duke of 
Newcastle for his authority ? 

BeUeve me, dearest, in haste, ever yours, p Nightingale 

Perhaps it is better to keep it quite a private thing, and not 
apply to Gov', qua Gov'. 

This letter was posted on Saturday. Mr. Herbert had 
left London to spend Sunday at Bournemouth, and thence, 
unaware of the communication which was on its way to him 
from Miss Nightingale, he addressed the following letter to 
her : — 

{Sidney Herbert to Miss Nightingale.) Bournemouth, 
October 15 [1854]. Dear Miss Nightingale — You will have 


seen in the papers that there is a great deficiency of nurses at the 
Hospital at Scutari. 

The other alleged deficiencies, namely of medical men, hnt, 
sheets, etc., must, if they have really ever existed, have been 
remedied ere this, as the number of medical officers with the 
army amounted to one to every 95 men in the whole 
force, being nearly double what we have ever had before, and 
30 more surgeons went out 3 weeks ago, and would by this 
time, therefore, be at Constantinople. A further supply went 
on Thursday, and a fresh batch sail next week. 

As to medical stores, they have been sent out in profusion ; 
lint by the ton weight, 15,000 pairs of sheets, medicine, wine, 
arrowroot in the same proportion ; and the only way of account- 
ing for the deficiency at Scutari, if it exists, is that the mass of 
stores went to Varna, and was not sent back when the army left 
for the Crimea ; but four days would have remedied this. In 
the meanwhile fresh stores are arriving. 

But the deficiency of female nurses is undoubted, none but 
male nurses having ever been admitted to military hospitals. 

It would be impossible to carry about a large staff of female 
nurses with the army in the field. But at Scutari, having now 
a fixed hospital, no military reason exists against their introduc- 
tion, and I am confident they might be introduced with great 
benefit, for hospital orderlies must be very rough hands, and 
most of them, on such an occasion as this, very inexperienced 

I receive numbers of offers from ladies to go out, but they 
are ladies who have no conception of what an hospital is, nor of 
the nature of its duties ; and they would, when the time came, 
either recoil from the work or be entirely useless, and consequently 
— what is worse — entirely in the way. Nor would these ladies 
probably ever understand the necessity, especially in a military 
hospital, of strict obedience to rule. Lady M. Forester (Lord 
Roden's daughter) has made some proposal to Dr. Smith, the 
head of the Army Medical Department, either to go with or to 
send out trained nurses. I apprehend she means from Fitzroy 
Square, John Street, or some such estabhshment. The Rev. Mr. 
Hume, once chaplain to the General Hospital at Birmingham 
(and better known as author of the scheme for transferring the 
city churches to the suburbs), has offered to go out himself as 
chaplain with two daughters and twelve nurses. He was in the 
army seven years, and has been used to hospitals, and I like the 
tone of his letters very much. I think from both of these offers 
practical effects may be drawn. But the difficulty of finding 
nurses who are at all versed in their business is probably not 
known to Mr. Hume, and Lady M. Forester probably has not 


tested the willingness of the trained nurses to go, and is incapable 
of directing or ruling them. 

There is but one person in England that I know of who would 
be capable of organizing and superintending such a scheme ; 
and I have been several times on the point of asking j'ou hypo- 
thetically if, supposing the attempt were made, you would 
undertake to direct it. 

The selection of the rank and file of nurses will be very 
difficult : no one knows it better than yourself. The difficulty 
of finding women equal to a task, after all, full of horrors, 
and requiring, besides knowledge and goodwill, great energy and 
great courage, will be great. The task of ruling them and 
introducing system among them, great ; and not the least will 
be the difficulty of making the whole work smoothly with the 
medical and military authorities out there. This it is which 
makes it so important that the experiment should be carried out 
by one with a capacity for administration and experience. A 
number of sentimental enthusiastic ladies turned loose into the 
Hospital at Scutari would probably, after a few days, be mises a 
la porte by those whose business they would interrupt, and whose 
authority they would dispute. 

My question simply is, Would you listen to the request to go 
and superintend the whole thing ? You would of course have 
plenary authority over all the nurses, and I think I could secure 
you the fullest assistance and co-operation from the medical staff, 
and you would also have an unlimited power of drawing on the 
Government for whatever you thought requisite for the success 
of your mission. On this part of the subject the details are too 
many for a letter, and I reserve it for our meeting ; for whatever 
decision you take, I know you will give me every assistance and 

I do not say one word to press you. You are the only person 
who can judge for yourself which of conflicting or incompatible 
duties is the first, or the highest ; but I must not conceal from 
you that I think upon your decision will depend the ultimate 
success or failure of the plan. Your own personal qualities, 
your knowledge and your power of administration, and among 
greater things your rank and position in Society give you advan- 
tages in such a work which no other person possesses. 

If this succeeds, an enormous amount of good will be done 
now, and to persons deserving everything at our hands ; and a 
prejudice will have been broken through, and a precedent estab- 
lished, which will multiply the good to all time. 

I hardly like to be sanguine as to your answer. If it were 
" yes," I am certain the Bracebridges would go with you and 
give you all the comfort you would require, and which their 


society and sympathy only could give you. I have written very 
long, for the subject is very near my heart. Liz [Mrs. Herbert] 
is writing to Mrs. Bracebridge to tell her what I am doing. I go 
back to town to-morrow morning. Shall I come to you between 
3 and 5 ? Will you let me have a Une at the War Office to 
let me know ? 

There is one point which I have hardly a right to touch upon, 
but I know you will pardon me. If you were inchned to under- 
take this great work, would Mr. and Mrs. Nightingale give their 
consent ? The work would be so national, and the request made 
to you proceeding from the Government who represent the nation 
comes at such a moment, that I do not despair of their consent. 
Deriving your authority from the Government, your position 
would secure the respect and consideration of every one, especially 
in a service where official rank carries so much weight. This 
would secure to you every attention and comfort on your way 
and there, together with a complete submission to your orders. 
I know these things are a matter of indifference to you except 
so far as they may further the great objects you have in view ; 
but they are of importance in themselves, and of every importance 
to those who have a right to take an interest in your personal 
position and comfort. 

I know you will come to a wise decision. God grant it may 
be in accordance with my hopes ! Believe me, dear Miss 
Nightingale, ever yours, Sidney Herbert. 1 

There was no hitch, such as Sidney Herbert half feared, 
from reluctance on the part of Miss Nightingale's parents. 
Her uncle, Mr. Samuel Smith (husband of her Aunt Mai, 
of whose helpfulness we have heard), had already half 
obtained their consent to her going as a volunteer. All 
hesitation was removed when the news came that she was 
asked to go by and for the Government itself : — 

" My Love," wrote Miss Nightingale's sister to a friend 
(Oct. 18), " Government has asked, I should say entreated, Flo 
to go out and help in the Hospital at Scutari. I am sure you will 
feel that it is a great and noble work, and that it is a real duty ; 
for there is no one, as they tell her, and I believe truly, who has 
the knowledge and the zeal necessary to make such a step 

^ This famous letter — obviously private at the time — was printed in 
extenso, for a controversial purpose (see below, p. 245), in the Daily News 
of October 28, 1854. Miss Nightingale was much distressed when she 
heard of the publication, and her family could not think how it had " got 
into the papers " ; but they had shown it, and copies of it, too widely. 


And to the same friend a day or two later : — 

Before, in Harley Street, I did not feel sure that she was 
right, there seemed so much to be done at home ; but now there 
is no doubt that she is fitted to do this work, and that no one else 
is, and that it is a work. I must say the way in which all things 
have tended to and fitted her for this is so very remarkable that 
one cannot but believe she was intended for it. None of her 
previous life has been wasted, her experience all tells, all the 
gathered stores of so many years, her Kaiserswerth, her sympathy 
with the R. Catholic system of work, her travels, her search 
into the hospital question, her knowledge of so many different 
minds and different classes, all are serving so curiously — and 
much more than I have time for. 

Yes, and perhaps even the difficulties which affectionate 
solicitude had placed in Florence Nightingale's way might 
have been counted among her preparations for a task in- 
volving great power of will and determination. 

Miss Nightingale saw Mr. Herbert on Monday, October 
16, and the matter was arranged between them. Mrs. 
Sidney Herbert and the other ladies of the Harley Street 
Committee readily released their Superintendent. Her 
faithful friends, Mr. and Mrs. Bracebridge, agreed to ac- 
company her. Mr. Herbert had assured Miss Nightingale 
of their willingness, without any previous consultation — a 
fine instance, surely, of friendly confidence. The Duke of 
Newcastle, who had some slight personal acquaintance with 
Miss Nightingale, and the other members of the Cabinet 
cordially approved the initiative of their colleague, and 
three days later Miss Nightingale received her official 
appointment and instructions : — 

{The Secretary-at-War to Miss Nightingale.) War Office, 
October 19 [1854]. Madam — Having consented at the pressing 
instance of the Government to accept the office of Superintendent 
of the female nursing establishment in the English General 
Military Hospitals in Turkey, you will, on your arrival there, 
place yourself at once in communication with the Chief Army 
Medical Officer of the Hospital at Scutari, under whose orders 
and direction you will carry on the duties of your appointment. 

Everything relating to the distribution of the nurses, the 
hours of their attendance, their allotment to particular duties, 
is placed in your hands, subject, of course, to the sanction and 
approval of the Chief Medical Officer ; but the selection of the 


nurses in the first instance is placed solely under your controul, 
or under that of persons to be agreed upon between yourself and 
the Director-General of the Army and Ordnance Medical Depart- 
ment, and the persons so selected will receive certificates from 
the Director-General or the principal Medical Officer of one of 
the General Hospitals, without which certificate no one will be 
permitted to enter the Hospital in order to attend the sick. 

In like manner the power of discharge on account of illness 
or of dismissal for misconduct, inaptitude, or other cause, is 
vested entirely in yourself ; but in cases of such discharge or 
dismissal the cost of the return passage of such person home will, 
if you think it advisable and if they proceed at once or so soon 
as their health enables them, be defrayed by the Government. 

Directions will be given by the mail of this day to engage 
one or two houses in a situation as convenient as can be found 
for attendance at the Hospital, or to provide accommodation in 
the Barracks if thought more advisable. And instructions will 
be given to Lord Stratford de Redclifte to afford you every 
facility and assistance on landing at Constantinople, as also to 
Dr. Menzies, the Chief Medical Officer of the Hospital at Scutari, 
who will give you all the aid in his power and every support in 
the execution of your arduous duties. 

The cost of the passage both out and home of yourself and 
the nurses who may accompany you, or who may follow you, 
will be defrayed by the Government, as also the cost of house 
rent, subsistence, &c., &c. ; and I leave to your discretion the rate 
of pay which you may think it advisable to give to the different 
persons acting under your authority. 

In the meanwhile Sir John Kirkland, the Army Agent, has 
received orders to honor your drafts to the amount of One 
Thousand Pounds for the necessary expense of outfit, travelling 
expenses, &c., &c., of which sum you will render an account to 
the Purveyor of the Forces at Scutari. 

You will, for your current expenses, payment of wages, &c., 
&c., apply to the Purveyor through the Chief Medical Officer, in 
charge of the Hospital, who will provide you with the necessary 

I feel confident that, with a view to the fulfilment of the 
arduous task you have undertaken, you \vill impress upon those 
acting under your orders the necessity of the strictest attention 
to the regulations of the Hospital, and the preservation of that 
subordination which is indispensable in every Military Establish- 

And I rely on your discretion and vigilance carefully to guard 
against any attempt being made among those under your 
authority, selected as they are with a view to fitness and without 


any reference to religious creed, to make use of their position in 
the Hospitals to tamper with or disturb the rehgious opinions of 
the patients of any denomination whatever, and at once to check 
any such tendency and to take, if necessary, severe measures 
to prevent its repetition. 

I have the honor to be. Madam, your most obedient servant, 

Sidney Herbert, 

The instructions promised in this letter were duly sent 
to the Commander of the Forces, the Purveyor-in-Chief, 
and the Principal Medical Officer ; ^ and the way was 
smoothed for Miss Nightingale, as they thought in Downing 
Street, by supplementary letters to some of the officials. 
A letter was sent to the Purveyor-General (Oct. 19), in 
which " Mr. Sidney Herbert trusts that you will use every 
endeavour to assist Miss Nightingale in the performance 
of the arduous duties she has voluntarily undertaken, the 
success of which must necessarily depend upon the assistance 
and co-operation of others, and cannot fail to be of great 
benefit to those Gallant Men who have suffered in the service 
of their country." Similarly Sir Charles Trevelyan, Assist- 
ant-secretary to the Treasury, remarking that the com- 
missariat officers are the bankers and stewards of the army, 
wrote, as he told Miss Nightingale (Oct. 20), " to Commissary- 
General Filder and Deputy-Commissary-General Smith, the 
Senior Officer at Scutari, to request that they will from the 
first give you all the support they are able, and instruct their 
officers of every grade to do the same." Any difficulties 
which might confront her would not be caused, it seemed, by 
lack of support at home. 


Private support was forthcoming as readily as official. 
Mr. Henry Reeve, an old friend of Miss Nightingale and her 
family, rejoicing that she had now " an opportunity of action 
worthy of her," spoke to the great Delane, and requested 
him to direct Mr. Macdonald — who was being sent out to 
administer the Times Fund — to co-operate with Miss 
Nightingale. Mr. Macdonald was a man, as Mr. Reeve 
testified, and as Miss Nightingale was to discover — to the 

^ The text of the instructions may be found in the Journal of the Royal 
Army Medical Corps, October 1910. 


great advantage of their common cause, — " of remarkable 
intelligence and activity." 

Two days after the receipt of her official instructions, 
five days after her interview with Mr. Herbert, Miss Nightin- 
gale and her party left London (Oct. 21). The amount of 
work which fell upon Miss Nightingale during the ten days 
(Oct. 12-21) was enormous, and some of the details she was 
obliged to delegate to others. The headquarters of the 
expedition during its outfit were established at Mr. Sidney 
Herbert's house in Belgrave Square, and there Miss Mary 
Stanley and Mrs. Bracebridge interviewed applicants. Miss 
Nightingale, foreseeing (only too truly, as the event was to 
show) the difficulty both of finding suitable women and of 
supervising them, was inclined to limit the number to twenty. 
Mr. Herbert, thinking that such a new departure should be 
made on a considerable scale, proposed a larger number, 
and Miss Nightingale gave way. Forty was the number 
agreed upon ; but the material which offered itself was not 
promising. " Here we sit all day," wrote Miss Stanley ; 
" I wish people who may hereafter complain of the women 
selected could have seen the set we had to choose from. 
All London was scoured for them. We sent emissaries in 
every direction to every likely place. . . . We felt ashamed 
to have in the house such women as came. One alone ex- 
pressed a wish to go from a good motive. Money was the 
only inducement." ^ Ultimately thirty-eight nurses were 

Mr. Herbert, in the concluding passage of his Instruc- 
tions, rehed on Miss Nightingale's vigilance to prevent 
religious " tampering." This was an instruction which she 
had discussed with him, for she foresaw (again only too well) 
the odium theologicum that might confront her. She was 
primarily concerned to get the best nurses as such, but she 
was anxious also that the different churches or shades 
should be represented. In this desire she was in large 
measure disappointed. AppHcation was made both to St. 
John's House, an institution inclined towards Tractarianism, 
and to the Protestant Institution for Nurses in Devonshire 
Square. In each case the answer was returned that nurses 

^ Stanmore, vol. i. p. 342. 


coiild only be supplied if they were to be subject to their 
own Committees ; the Government's condition of subjection 
to Miss Nightingale's control was rejected. The authorities 
of St, John's House proposed that their nurses should be 
accompanied by the Master of the House, to act as " their 
guardian." It will readily be imagined how impossible 
Miss Nightingale's position would have been on such terms. 
The proposal shows incidentally how little some people 
understood of the conditions of discipHne necessary in a 
military hospital. Mr. Sidney Herbert, the Chaplain- 
General of the Forces, and Miss Nightingale met the Council 
of St. John's House ; the point of Miss Nightingale's ex- 
clusive control was conceded, and the Master stayed at home. 
The Lady Superior of St. John's House at this time was Miss 
Mary Jones, who to the end of her life remained one of the 
most valued and tenderly devoted of Miss Nightingale's 
friends.^ The authorities in Devonshire Square, on the 
other hand, would not surrender the point of separate con- 
trol, and accordingly no nurses were supplied by the dis- 
tinctively Protestant institution. " We are only vexed," 
wrote Lady Verney, " because Flo so earnestly desired to 
include all shades of opinion, to prove that all, however they 
differed, might work together in a common brotherhood of 
love to God and man." 

The party, as ultimately recruited, was composed of ten j 
Roman Catholic Sisters (five from Bermondsey and five from | 
Norwood), eight Anglican Sisters (from Miss Sellon's Home at 
Devonport), six nurses from St. John's House, and fourteen 
from various English hospitals. It has often been supposed 
that the nurses who accompanied Miss Nightingale were ladies 
of gentle birth, but, with a few exceptions, this was not 
the case. On the eve of their departure, the nurses were 
addressed by Mr. Herbert in his dining-room. He told 
them that if any desired to turn back, now was the time of 
decision, and he impressed upon them that all who went were 
bound implicitly to obey Miss Nightingale in all things. 
" All started on their ways," we are told,^ " strengthened 

^ Miss Jones resigned her appointment at St. John's House in 1868, 
owing to differences of opinion with the Council, and set up a private 
nursing estabhshment. She died in 1887. 

^ Stanmore, vol. i. p. 342. 


by his heart-stirring words, and cheered no less by the 
sunny brightness of his presence than by his kindly and 
unfailing sympathy." Unhappily the effect was not in all 
cases permanent, as we shall hear. 

" Do not answer this," wrote a Minister to Miss Nightin- 
gale ; " f or I am sure you must have more on your hands 
now than a Secretary of State." But what struck those 
about her was her perfect calm. " No one is so well fitted 
as she to do such work," wrote Lady Canning to Lady 
Stuart de Rothesay (Oct. 17) ; " she has such nerve and 
skill, and is so wise and quiet. Even now she is in no bustle 
and hurry, though so much is on her hands, and such numbers 
of people volunteer services." She had only one worry. 
Her pet owl had died. When her family were leaving 
Embley to see her off, the feeding of the owl was forgotten 
in the hurry and flurry. It was embalmed, and " the only 
tear its mistress shed through that tremendous week," says 
her sister, " was when I put the little body into her hands. 
' Poor little beastie, it was odd how much I loved you.' " ^ 
For the rest, she was " as calm and composed in this furious 
haste," wrote her sister (Oct. 19), " with the War Oihce, 
the Military Medical Board, half the nurses in London to 
speak to, her own Committee and Institution, as if she were 
going out for a walk." She was quiet because, hke Words- 
worth's Happy Warrior, in the heat of excitement, she 
" kept the law in calmness made, and saw what she foresaw." 
Like the character drawn by another master-hand, " in the 
tumult she was tranquil," because she had pondered when 
at rest. 

A small black pocket-book is preserved in which were 
found, at Miss Nightingale's death, a few of the many letters 
received just before she left England for the East. Perhaps 
they were the very last letters received ; perhaps they were 
there for other reasons. One spoke of a mother's love : — 

^ From the Life and Death of Athena, an Owlet from the Parthenon, a 
manuscript book charmingly written and illustrated by Lady Verney. 
She wrote it in 1855, and sent it to Scutari " to try and make Flo and 
Mrs. Bracebridge laugh when F. was recovering from her fever." 


Monday morning. God speed you on your errand of mercy, 
my own dearest child. I know He will, for He has given you 
such loving friends, and they will be always at your side to help 
in all your difficulties. They came just when I felt that you 
must fail for want of strength, and more mercies will come in 
your hour of need. They are so wise and good, they will be to 
you what no one else could. They will write to us, and save 
you in that and in all ways. They are to us an earnest of blessings 
to come. I do not ask you to spare yourself for your own sake, 
but for the sake of the cause. — Ever Thine. 

Another letter reminded her of the love of God : — 

God will keep you. And my prayer for you will be that 
your one object of Worship, Pattern of Imitation, and Source of 
consolation and strength may be the Sacred Heart of our Divine 
Lord. Always yours for our Lord's sake, 

Henry E. Manning, 

And a third among them was from the friend whose life 
she had declined to share, but whose sympathy was still 
precious to her : — 

" My dear Friend," he wrote (Oct. i8), "I hear you are 
going to the East. I am happy it is so, for the good you will do 
there, and the hope that you may find some satisfaction in it 
yourself. I cannot forget how you went to the East once before, 
and here am I writing quietly to you about what you are going 
to do now. You can undertake that, when you could not under- 
take me. God bless you, dear Friend, wherever you go." 




On the ocean no post brings us letters which we are compelled to 
answer. No newspaper tempts us into reading the last night's debate in 
ParUament. The absence of distracting incidents, the sameness of the 
scene, and the uniformity of life on board ship, leave us leisure for reflec- 
tion ; we are thrown in upon our own thoughts, and can make up our 
accounts with our consciences. — Froude. 

Miss Nightingale and her party left London on Saturday, 
October 21. Among those who saw them off was her 
cousin, Arthur Hugh Clough. The principal halts were made 
in Paris and Marseilles. At Paris, Miss Nightingale had 
hoped to recruit some Sisters for nursing service. She went 
to the headquarters of the Order of St. Vincent de Paul, 
furnished with letters from the British Government and the 
French military authorities, and accompanied by the British 
Ambassador's private secretary in order to strengthen her 
application ; but it was refused.^ At Marseilles, with what 
turned out to be admirable forethought, she laid in a large 
store of miscellaneous provisions. Her uncle, Mr. Sam 
Smith, accompanied the party to Marseilles, and from his 
letters we obtain vivid glimpses of the expedition en route : — 

" Kindly received everywhere," he wrote (Oct. 26), " by 
French and English. Still it was very hard work for Flo to 
keep 40 in good humour ; arranging the rooms of 5 different 
sects each night, before sitting down to supper, took a long 
time ; then calling all to be down at 6 ready to start. She bears 
all wonderfully — so calm, winning everybody, French and 

A correspondent wrote to the Times from Boulogne, 

^ Letter to Captain Gal ton. May 5, 1863. 


describing how the arrival of the party there caused so much 
enthusiasm, that the sturdy fisherwomen seized their bags 
and carried them to the hotel, refusing to accept the slightest 
gratuity ; how the landlord of the hotel gave them dinner, 
and told them to order what they liked, adding that they 
would not be allowed to pay for anything ; and how waiters 
and chambermaids were equally firm in refusing any ac- 
knowledgment for their attentions. Lady Verney, in a 
letter to a friend, acutely noted a yet more remarkable 
thing, " the railroad would not be paid for her boxes." 

At Marseilles the expedition excited lively interest, and 
its Chief was overwhelmed with attentions : — 

" Where she was seen or heard," wrote the proud uncle, 
" there was nothing but admiration from high and low. Her 
calm dignity influenced everybody. I am sure the nurses quite 
love her already. Some cried when she exhorted them at the 
last, and all promised well. Blessings on her ! She makes 
everybody who joins with her feel the good and like it (instead 
of disposing them against it, as some well-meaning oppositious 
spirits do)." 

And again in another letter : — 

Words cannot tell Mrs. Bracebridge's devotion to Flo, nor 
Flo's to the cause. Neither sat down but for a hurried meal. 
Shopkeepers, visitors, nurses, servants, every single instant. Flo 
never crossed the threshold. There she was, receiving in her 
little bedroom (not at bedtime) the Inspector-General, the 
Consul and Agent, a Queen's Messenger, Times Correspondent, 
and two or three shopkeepers with the same serenity as if in a 
dravdng-room quite desceuvree. Her influence on all (to captain 
and steward of boat) was wonderful. The rough hospital nurses, 
on the third day after breakfasting and dining with us each 
day, and receiving all her attentions, were quite humanized and 
civilized, their very manners at table softened. " We never 
had so much care taken of our comforts before ; it is not people's 
way with iis ; we had no notion Miss N. would slave herself 
so for us." She looked so calm and noble in it all, whether 
waiting on the nurses at dinner in the station (because no one 
else would), or carrying parcels, or receiving functionaries. 
The Bracebridges are fuller than ever of admiration of her, as 
I am. She looked better and handsomer than even the day she 
sailed. I went back with the literary public of Marseilles, all 
full of admiration. It was very doleful sitting in Flo's deserted 

i64 " WHO IS ' MRS. ' NIGHTINGALE ? " pt. h 

She sailed from Marseilles on board the Vectis on Friday, 
October 27, loudly cheered from an English vessel in the 
harbour, carrying with her, as a friend had written, " the 
deep prayers and gratitude of the English people." 


From the moment when public announcement of her 
mission was made, she had, indeed, become a popular 
heroine. Though well known in Society, she had been as yet 
a stranger to pubhc fame ; so much so that the Times itself, 
in printing the announcement (Oct. 19), said : " We are 
authorised to state that Mrs. Nightingale," etc. Delane 
cannot have kept his eye on the news-columns, for not until 
some days had elapsed was it discovered to the pubhc that 
" Mrs." Nightingale was in fact " Miss." " Who is ' Mrs.' 
Nightingale ? " was a heading in the Examiner (Oct. 28), 
and the question was answered in a biographical article. 
Some passages of it deserve record here, for it went the 
round of the press throughout the world, and was the source 
from which, from that day to this, the popular idea of 
Florence Nightingale has been derived. The article stated 
succinctly, and with substantial accuracy, the course of 
her life ; dwelt upon the facts that she was " young, grace- 
ful, feminine, rich, and popular " ; enlarged, with less 
accuracy, upon her delight in the " palpable and heart-felt 
attractions " of her home ; described her forsaking the 
" assemblies, lectures, concerts, exhibitions, and all the 
entertainments for taste and intellect with which London 
in its season abounds," in order to sit beside the sick and 
dying ; and concluded thus : She had set out for the scene 
of war 

... at the risk of her own life, at the pang of separation from 
all her friends and family, and at the certainty of encountering 
hardship, dangers, toils, and the constantly renewing scene of 
human suffering, amid all the worst horrors of war. There are 
few who would not recoil from such realities, but Miss Nightin- 
gale shrank not, and at once accepted the request that was made 
her to form and control the entire nursing establishment for all 
sick and wounded soldiers and sailors in the Levant. While we 
write, this deliberate, sensitive, and highly-endowed young lady 


is already at her post, rendering the holiest of women's charities 
to the sick, the dying, and the convalescent. There is a heroism 
in dashing up the heights of Alma in defiance of death and all 
mortal opposition, and let all praise and honour be, as they are, 
bestowed upon it ; but there is a quiet forecasting heroism and 
largeness of heart in this lady's resolute accumulation of the 
powers of consolation, and her devoted apphcation of them, 
which rank as high and are at least as pure. A sage few will 
no doubt condemn, sneer at, or pity an enthusiasm which to 
them seems eccentric, or at best misplaced ; but to the true heart 
of the country it will speak home, and be there felt that there is 
not one of England's proudest and purest daughters who at this 
moment stands on so high a pinnacle as Florence Nightingale. 

The discovery by the public that the head of the Nursing 
Expedition was not " Mrs." Nightingale, a matron, but a 
young lady, " graceful, rich, and popular," added to the 
enthusiasm which her devotion called forth. Her services 
were rendered gratuitously ; her necessary expenses were 
to be defrayed by the Government, and officialdom opined 
that no voluntary contributions, either in money or in kind, 
were needed. Happily for the comfort of our soldiers in 
the East, private individuals took a different view, and — 
in addition to the Times Fund — donations were sent to 
Miss Nightingale personally, both by her friends and by the 
general public. An account rendered after her return ^ from 
the East shows that from the general public she received 
nearly £7000 in money. This fund, added to the help which 
she obtained from the Times, and supplemented by expendi- 
ture out of her private purse, enabled Miss Nightingale 
greatly to extend the scope of her work. The statement 
that she was rich requires some qualification. Her father 
was rich, but the personal allowance which he had made to 
her, when she declared her independence in 1853, was £500 
a year, and it remained at this figure for several years. 
During her mission to the East she devoted the whole of 
it to her work. 

Gifts in kind and offers of personal service also poured in. 
Now that Miss Nightingale was at sea, the task of dealing 
with such matters was undertaken by her sister and a friend. 
The Nightingale family had taken a house for the time in 

^ The Statement (see Bibliography A, No. 5). 


Cavendish Square (No. 4), which became the headquarters 
of a charitable bureau. 

" I am well nigh writ out," wrote Lady Vemey to Madame 
Mohl (Nov. 6), " 170 letters to answer in the last fortnight, and 
very difficult ones, some of them. I should Hke you to hear a 
batch of the offers of all kinds we receive, some so pretty, some 
so queer. Old Unen is abating, I am happy to say ; even knitted 
socks are slacker ; but nurses, rabble and respectable, ladies, 
and very much the reverse, continue to rain. It is tremendous ; 
however, having reached No. 276, we are going to shut the door. 
Mary Stanley and I sit daily at the receipt of custom, and funny 
things do we see and hear ! Human nature is a wondrous work, 
whether of God Almighty I sometimes begin to doubt." 

It is worth noting, in view of an unfortunate dispute 
that presently arose, that both Lady Verney and Miss 
Stanley distinctly understood that additional nurses would 
only be sent " if Flo asks." All applicants were so informed ; 
but so keen was the desire to serve, that " many ladies," 
so Lady Verney wrote, " are undergoing hospital training 
on chance." 


Miss Nightingale, meanwhile, was at sea on her way to 
Constantinople, revolving many things in her mind. She 
had been called to a mission upon which issues very near to 
her heart depended. If it succeeded, then, as Mr. Herbert 
had written to her, not only would an enormous amount of 
good be done now to the sick and wounded, but " a prejudice 
would have been broken through, and a precedent estab- 
Hshed, which would multiply the good to all time." And 
so, as we all know, it was destined to be. But at the time 
the fate of the experiment was doubtful. It was Mr. 
Herbert's conviction that no one except Florence Nightingale 
could make it succeed, but it was by no means certain that 
even she could do so. She took in her hands the reputation 
of the Minister who trusted her, and her own ; and not her 
reputation only, but the hopes, the aspirations, the ambi- 
tions which had ruled her life. 

She determined to succeed, and she counted the diffi- 
culties which would confront her. Writing two years later 


and giving account of her stewardship, she paid her tribute 
of thanks to those " among the officials, medical as well as 
military, to whose benevolence, ability, and unselfish devo- 
tion to duty she was indebted for facilities, without which, 
in a position such as hers, new to the service, and exposed 
to much criticism and difficulty, she would have been utterly 
unable to perform the work entrusted to her." ^ She saw 
from the start that she would be exposed, in the very nature 
of the case, to some medical jealousy and much military 

The idea of employing female nurses at Scutari had been 
mooted before the army left for the East, but was abandoned, 
as the Duke of Newcastle explained, because " it was not 
liked by the military authorities." ^ Of the military 
prejudice against the intrusion of women, even for the 
gentle office of nursing, into the rough work of war, some 
entertaining illustrations are happily on record. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Sterling, afterwards Sir Anthony SterUng, K.C.B., 
was on active service during the Crimean campaign, first 
as brigade-major, and afterwards as assistant adjutant- 
general to the Highland division. He was an elder brother 
of Carlyle's John Sterling, and himself possessed of some 
literary skill. " A solid, substantial man," Carlyle calls 
him ; he was also a man who loved to stand by the ancient 
ways. He wrote a series of lively letters during the cam- 
paign, and in his will directed that they should be published. 
Nowhere, so clearly as in Sterling's Highland Brigade in the 
Crimea, have I found contemporary evidence of the pre- 
judices against which the experiment of Mr. Herbert and 
Miss Nightingale had to contend. During Miss Nightin- 
gale's visit to Balaclava in 1855, some dispute arose among 

the nurses. " Miss has added herself," wrote Colonel 

Sterling, " to the hospital of the 42nd ; and will not acknow- 
ledge the voice of the Nightingale, who has written an 
official letter to Lord Raglan on the subject. I suppose he 
will order a court-martial composed of nurses, who will 
administer queer justice." Our Colonel is something of a 
wag. He cannot help laughing at " the Nightingale," 
because, as he explains, he has such " a keen sense of the 

^ Statement, pp. 3-4. ^ Roebuck Committee, Q. 14625. 


ridiculous." He is so pleased with his quip about the female 
court-martial that he returns to it in another letter. He is 
tickled, too, by a saying of the mess-room, that " Miss 
Nightingale has shaved her head to keep out vermin." One 
can almost hear the honest Colonel's guffaw as he wonders 
whether " she will wear a wig or a helmet ? " Women, he 
supposes, imagine that " war can be made without wounds " ; 
they will be teaching us how to fight next ; and as for their 
ideas of nursing, why some of the ladies actually took to 
" scrubbing floors " ! It amused him, but angered him no 
less. He has to admit that he beheves " the Nightingale " 
has been of some use ; but he bitterly resents her " capture " 
of orderlies for mere purposes of nursing, and when he is 
asked, " When will she go home ? " answers with Christopher 
Sly, " Would it were done." " However," he writes, 

" (presumably Sidney Herbert) is gone ; and I hope 

there is not to be found another Minister who will allow 
these absurdities." Miss Nightingale read Sir Anthony's 
book when it came out in 1895, and made some severe 
marginalia upon it ; remarking upon his " absolute ignorance 
of sanitary things," noting the " misprints as a fair index to 
the whole," and finally dismissing the book as " one long 
string of Seniority complaints." But I protest that she 
need not have been so angry. And, indeed, perhaps she was 
not so angry as she seemed, for her caustic pen was not 
always a true index of her mind. For my part I take my 
hat off to Sir Anthony Absolute. His honest, old-fashioned 
outbursts let in a flood of light upon one side of the diffi- 
culties which were to confront Miss Nightingale upon landing 
at Scutari. 

She pondered much also upon the possibilities of friction 
with the medical officers ; and here, too, our Colonel has 
some light to give us. " The Chief Medical Officer out here," 
he wrote, " ought to have been intrusted with Nightingale 
powers." The Service in all its branches stuck together, it 
will be seen, and no blame to it for that ! But if a fighting 
colonel smarted under what he deemed a slight upon an 
army medical officer, how much more might the Medical 
Service itself be expected to resent any encroachment upon 
its appointed province ! How keenly it did resent such 


encroachment may be gathered from the Life and Letters of 
Sir John Hall, M.D., by Mr. Mitra, whose book suppHes us 
with the same kind of illustration in regard to the army 
doctors that we may gather from Colonel Sterling's in regard 
to the soldiers. Sir John, like Sir Anthony, thought the 
whole thing " very droll." He was stationed in the Crimea, 
and we shall hear something of the strained relations between 
him and Miss Nightingale, when we follow her thither. 
But at Scutari also, there were some few medical officers 
who retained even to the last a ridiculous jealousy of any 
" meddling " by Miss Nightingale and her staff. ^ She 
foresaw this danger, and made up her mind to avert it by 
every means in her power. 

And there was a third danger which she foresaw also. 
Not only had she to overcome military prejudice and to 
avert medical jealousy, but she had also to prevent religious 
disputation. This last task was beyond her powers, as it 
has ever proved beyond those of men, women, and angels ; 
for by this cause even the angels fell. No work, however 
beneficent, has ever yet been found beyond the capacity of 
the odium theologicum to mar and embitter. Miss Nightin- 
gale's mission did not escape the common lot, as we shall 
hear ; but she was keenly sensible of the danger. 

Miss Nightingale pondered over all these things as the 
ship sped on its way to the Golden Horn ; and the more she 
pondered, the more she was driven to decide upon a course 
of action, very different from what many people supposed 
that she would adopt, but entirely consonant with the bent 
of her own mind. She saw quite clearly that, if she was to 
avoid the rocks ahead of her, what was needed was not so 
much genial, impulsive kindness, reckless of rules and 
defiant of constituted authority, but rather strict method, 
stern discipline, and rigid subordination. The criticisms 
to which she exposed herself in the superintendence of her 
nurses were based, not upon laxity, but upon her alleged 
severity.^ As for her own conduct, she supposed that her 
work, when she landed, would be that of the matron of a 
hospital. If, as it turned out, she became rather (as she 

^ Pincoffs, p. 79. 
^ See on this point the references given below, p. 210 7;. 


put it) mistress of a barrack, it was because she found 
herself in the midst of conditions which the constituted 
authorities at home had not foreseen, and before which those 
on the spot stood powerless. Miss Nightingale was happily 
possessed of an original mind and a resolute will. She saw 
evils which cried out for remedies ; and new occasions 
taught new duties. 



Dearth of creative brain-power showed itself in our Levantine hospitals, 
for there industrious functionaries worked hard at their accustomed tasks, 
and doggedly omitted to innovate at times when not to be innovating 
was surrendering, as it were, at discretion to want and misery. But 
happily, after a while, and in gentle, almost humble, disguise, which put 
foes of change off their guard, there acceded to the state a new power. — 


Miss Nightingale reported the arrival of her expedition at 
Constantinople in a short note to her parents : — 

Constantinople, November 4, on board Vectis. — Dearest 
People — Anchored off the SeragUo point, waiting for our fate 
whether we can disembark direct into the Hospital, which, with 
our heterogeneous mass, we should prefer. 

At six o'clock yesterday mom I staggered on deck to look 
at the plains of Troy, the tomb of Achilles, the mouths of the 
Scamander, the httle harbour of Tenedos, between which and 
the mainshore our Vectis, with steward's cabins and galley torn 
away, blustering, crealdng, shrieking, storming, rushed on her 
way. It was in a dense mist that the ghosts of the Trojans 
answered my cordial hail, through which the old Gods, neverthe- 
less, peered down from the hill of Ida upon their old plain. My 
enthusiasm for the heroes though was undiminished by wind and 

We made the castles of Europe and Asia (Dardanelles) by 
eleven, but also reached Constantinople this mom in a thick 
and heavy rain, through which the Sophia, vSuUeman, the Seven 
Towers, the walls, and the Golden Horn looked Hke a bad 
daguerrotype washed out. 

We have not yet heard what the Embassy or Mihtary Hospital 
have done for us, nor received our orders. 

Bad news from Balaclava. You will hear the awful wreck of 
our poor cavalry, 400 wounded, arriving at this moment for us 
to nurse. We have just built another hospital at the Dardanelles. 



You will want to know about our crew. One has turned out 
ill, others will do. 

{Later) Just starting for Scutari. We are to be housed in the 
Hospital this very afternoon. Everybody is most kind. The 
fresh wounded are, I beUeve, to be placed under our care. They 
are landing them now. 

The Hospital, to which Miss Nightingale refers, was to 
be the chief scene of her labours for the next six months, 
and a few particulars about it and other hospitals, in which 
the nursing was under her superintendence, must be given 
in order to make future proceedings intelligible. The 
principal hospitals of the British army during the Crimean 
War — four in number — were at Scutari (or in its immediate 
neighbourhood), the suburb of mournful beauty which looks 
across to Constantinople from the Asiatic side of the Bos- 

The first hospital to be established was in the Turkish 
Military Hospital. This was made over to the British in 
May 1854, 3-rid was called by them The General Hospital. 
Having been originally designed for a hospital, and being 
given up to the English partially fitted, it was, wrote Miss 
Nightingale, " reduced to good order early, by the un- 
wearied efforts of the first-class Staff Surgeon in intro- 
ducing a good working system. It was then maintained 
in excellent condition till the close of the war." ^ It had 
accommodation for 1000 patients, but the Battle of the 
Alma showed that much larger accommodation would be 

North of the General Hospital, and near to the famous 
Turkish cemetery of Scutari, are the Selimiyeh Barracks — a 
great yellow building with square towers at each angle. 
This building was made over to the British for use as a 
hospital after the Battle of the Alma, and by them was 
always called The Barrack Hospital. This is the hospital 
in which Miss Nightingale and her band of female nurses 
were first established, and in which she herself had her 
headquarters throughout her stay at Scutari. It is built 
on rising ground, in a beautiful situation, looking over the 
Sea of Marmora on one side, towards the Princes' Islands on 

^ Statement, p. 13 n. 


another, and towards Constantinople and up the Bosphoriis 
on a third. " I have not been out of the Hospital Walls 
yet," wrote Miss Nightingale ten days after her anival, 
" but the most beautiful view in all the world, I believe, lies 
outside." Her quarters were in the north-west tower, on 
the left of the Main Guard (or principal entrance). There 
was a large kitchen or storeroom, of which we shall hear 
more presently, and out of it on either side various other 
rooms opened. Mr. Bracebridge and the courier slept in 
one small room ; Miss Nightingale and Mrs. Bracebridge in 
another. The nurses slept in other rooms. The whole 
space occupied by Miss Nightingale and her nurses was 
about equal to that allotted to three medical officers and 
their servants, or to that occupied by the Commandant. 
" This was done," she explained, " in order to make no 
pressure for room on an already overcrowded hospital. It 
could not have been done with justice to the women's 
health, had not Miss Nightingale later taken a house in 
Scutari at private expense, to which every nurse attacked 
with fever was removed." ^ The quarters were as uncom- 
fortable as they were cramped. " Occasionally," wrote 
Miss Nightingale, " our roof is torn off, or the windows are 
blown in, and we are under water for the night." The 
Hospital was infested also with rodents and vermin ; and, 
among other new accomplishments acquired under the 
stress of new occasions. Miss Nightingale became an expert 
rat-killer. This skill was afterwards called into use at 
Balaclava. In the spring of 1856, one of the nuns whom 
she had taken with her to the Crimea — Sister Mary Martha — 
had a dangerous attack of fever. Miss Nightingale nursed 
the case ; and one night, while watching by the sick-bed, 
she saw a large rat upon the rafters over the Sister's head ; 
she succeeded in knocking it down and killing it, without 
disturbing the patient. ^ The condition of physical dis- 
comfort in which, surrounded by terrible scenes of suffering, 
she had to do her work, should be remembered in taking 
the measure of her fortitude and devotion.^ 

^ Notes (Bibliography A, No. 8), sec. iii. p. xxxiii. 
* Grant, p. 174. 

^ For a lively description of like discomforts endured by her staff, 
see Eastern Hospitals, vol. i. pp. 91-94. 


The maximum number of patients accommodated at 
any one time (Dec. 23, 1854) ^^ the Barrack Hospital was 
2434. It was half-an-hour's walk from the General Hospital, 
and an invalided soldier records that he used to accompany 
Miss Nightingale from one hospital to another in order to 
light her home on wet stormy nights, across the barren 
common which lay between them. 

Farther south of the General Hospital, in the quarter of 
Haidar Pasha, was what was known as The Palace Hospital, 
consisting of various buildings belonging to the Sultan's 
Summer Palace. These were occupied as a hospital in 
January 1855. Miss Nightingale had no responsibility 
here ; but in the summer of 1855, the female nursing of sick 
officers, quartered in one of these buildings, was placed 
under the superintendence of Mrs. Willoughby Moore, the 
widow of an officer who had died a noble death in the war, 
and four female nurses, sent out specially from England. 

Finally, there were hospitals at Koulali, four or five 
miles farther north, upon the same Asiatic shore of the 
Bosphorus. These hospitals were opened in December 1854. 
The nursing in them was originally under Miss Nightingale's 
supervision, but she was presently relieved of it (p. 193 n.). 
The hospitals were broken up in November 1855, when, of the 
female nursing establishment, a portion went home, and 
the rest passed under Miss Nightingale into the hospitals at 

There were also five hospitals in the Crimea, but particu- 
lars of these may be deferred till the time comes for following 
Miss Nightingale upon her expeditions to the front. For 
the nursing in the Civil Military Hospitals {i.e. hospitals 
controlled by a civilian medical staff) at Renkioi (on the 
Dardanelles) and at Smyrna, and for the Naval Hospital 
at Therapia, Miss Nightingale had no responsibility, though 
there is voluminous correspondence among her papers 
showing that she was constantly consulted upon the site 
and arrangements of these hospitals. The medical super- 
intendent of the hospital at Renkioi was Dr. E. A. Parkes, 
with whom Miss Nightingale formed a friendship which 
endured to the end of his life. 



The state of the hospitals when Miss Nightingale arrived 
requires some description, which, however, need not be long. 
The treatment of the sick and wounded during the Crimean 
War was the subject of Departmental Inquiries, Select 
Committees, and Royal Commissions, which, when they 
had finished sitting upon the hospitals, began sitting upon 
each other. Enormous piles of Blue-books were accumu- 
lated, and in the course of my work I have disturbed much 
dust upon them. The conduct of every department and 
every individual concerned was the subject of charge, 
answer, and countercharge innumerable. Each generation 
deserves, no doubt, the records of mal-administration which 
it gets ; but one generation need not be punished by having 
to examine in detail the records of another. Some of the 
details of the Crimean muddle will indeed necessarily be 
disinterred in the course of our story ; but all that need 
here be collected from the heaps aforesaid are three general 

The reader must remember, in the first place, that, apart 
from controverted particulars, it was made abundantly 
manifest that there was gross neglect in the service of the 
sick and wounded. The conflict of testimony is readily 
intelligible. It was easy to give an account based upon the 
facts of one hospital or of one time which was not applicable 
to another. At Scutari, for instance, the General Hospital 
was from the first better ordered than the Barrack Hospital. 
Then, again, different witnesses had different standards of 
what was " good " in War Hospitals ; to some, anything 
was good if it was no worse than the standard of the Pen- 
insular War. Of Sir George Brown, who commanded the 
Light Division in the Crimea, it was said : " As he was 
thrown into a cart on some straw when shot through the 
legs in Spain, he thinks the same conveyances admirable 
now, and hates ambulances as the invention of the Evil 
One." ^ Miss Nightingale had much indignant sarcasm for 
those who seemed content that the soldier in hospital should 

^ J. B. Atkins, Life of Sir W. H. Russell, vol. i. p. 143. 


be placed in the condition of " former wars," instead of 
perceiving that he " should be treated with that degree of 
decency and humanity which the improved feeling of the 
nineteenth century demands." But the principal reason for 
the conflict of testimony was that the very facts of protest 
and inquiry put all the officials concerned upon the defensive. 
Any suggestion of default or defect was resented as a per- 
sonal imputation. There is a curious illustration in the 
letter which the Head of the Army Medical Department 
wrote to his Principal Medical Officer in view of the Roebuck 
Committee. " I beg you to supply me, and that immedi- 
ately " — with what ? with the truth, the whole truth, and 
nothing but the truth ? No — " with every kind of informa- 
tion which you may deem likely to enable me to establish 
a character for it [the Department], which the public appear 
desirous to prove that it does not possess." ^ But though 
there was much conflict of evidence, the final verdict was 
decisive. What Greville wrote in his Journal — " the ac- 
counts published in the Times turn out to be true " — was 
established by official inquiry and admitted by Ministers. 
In consequence of the indictment in the Times, a Commission 
of Inquiry was dispatched to the East by the Secretary of 
State. The Commission arrived at Constantinople simul- 
taneously with Miss Nightingale, and four months later it 
reported to the Duke of Newcastle.^ I need not trouble the 
reader here with many particulars of its Report ; for they 
were adopted and confirmed by a Select Committee of the 
House of Commons a few months later (the famous " Roe- 
buck Committee "), which pronounced succinct sentence 
that " the state of the hospitals was disgraceful." The 
ships which brought the sick and wounded from the Crimea 
were painfully ill-equipped. The voyage from Balaclava to 
Scutari usually took eight days and a half. During the first 
four months of the war, there died on a voyage, no longer 
than from Tynemouth to London, 74 out of every 1000 
embarked. The landing arrangements added to the men's 
sufferings. To an unpractised eye the buildings used as 

^ Notes, sec. i. p. xxii. 

^ This Commission is referred to on later pages as " The Duke of New- 

hospitals at Scutari were imposing and convenient ; and 
this fact accounts for some of the rose-coloured descriptions 
by which persons in high places were for a time misled. 
Even the Principal Medical Officer on the spot was naively 
content with whitewash as a preparation to fit the Barrack 
for use as a hospital. In fact, however, the buildings were 
pest-houses. Underneath the great structures " were sewers 
of the worst possible construction, loaded with filth, mere 
cesspools, in fact, through which the wind blew sewer air 
up the pipes of numerous open privies into the corridors 
and wards where the sick were lying." ^ There was also 
frightful overcrowding. For many months the space for 
each patient was one-fourth of what it ought to have been. 
And there was no proper ventilation. " It is impossible," 
Miss Nightingale told the Royal Commission of 1857, " to 
describe the state of the atmosphere of the Barrack Hospital 
at night. I have been well acquainted with the dwellings 
of the worst parts of most of the great cities in Europe, 
but have never been in any atmosphere which I could 
compare with it." Lastly, hospital comforts, and even 
many hospital necessaries, were deficient.^ The supply of 
bedsteads was inadequate. The commonest utensils, for 
decency as well as for comfort, were lacking. The sheets, 
said Miss Nightingale, " were of canvas, and so coarse that 
the wounded men begged to be left in their blankets. It 
was indeed impossible to put men in such a state of emacia- 
tion into those sheets. There was no bedroom furniture of 
any kmd, and only empty beer or wine bottles for candle- 
sticks." Necessary surgical and medical appliances were 
often either wanting or not forthcoming. There was no 
machinery, until Miss Nightingale came, for providing any 
hospital delicacies. The result of this state of things upon 
patients arriving after a painful voyage in an extreme state 
of weakness and emaciation, from wounds, from frost-bite, 

^ Notes, sec. iii. pp. iii., ix. 

^ If any reader desires to be sickened, I recommend to him the Report 
on the Hospitals by the Sanitary Commissioners of 1855. And if any one 
desires to find painful details under some of these heads detailed above, 
without recourse to Blue-books, he may be referred to the report in Hansard 
of the speech made by Mr. Augustus Stafford (an eye-witness of what he 
described) in the House of Commons, Jan. 29, 1855. 



from dysentery, may be imagined, and it is no wonder that 
cholera and typhus were rife. In February 1855 the mor- 
tahty per cent of the cases treated was forty-two. No 
words are necessary to emphasize so terrible a figure. 

Mr. Herbert had not waited for the reports of Commis- 
sion and Committee to reach the conclusion that things were 
wrong : — 

" I have for some time," he wrote on December 14, 1854, 
to the Commandant at Scutari, " been very anxious and very 
much dissatisfied as to the state of the hospital. I believe that 
every effort has been made by the medical men, and I hear that 
you have been indefatigable in the conduct of the immediate 
business of your department. But there has been evidently a 
want of co-operation between departments, and a fear of re- 
sponsibility or timidity, arising from an entire misconception of 
the wishes of the Government. No expense has been spared at 
home, and immense stores are sent out, but they are not forth- 
coming. Some are at Varna, and for some inexplicable reason 
they are not brought down to Scutari. When stores are in the 
hospital, they are not issued without forms so cumbrous as to 
make the issue unavailing through delay. The Purveyor's 
staff is said to be insufficient. The Commissariat staff is said 
to be insufficient, your own staff is said to be insufficient," etc. 

By admission, then, and by official sentence, there were 
things amiss at Scutari which urgently called for amend- 
ment. This is the first general conclusion which has to be 
remembered in relation to Miss Nightingale's work. 

To what individuals the disgrace of " a disgraceful state 
of things " attached, it is happily no concern of ours here to 
inquire. But as I have called Mr. Sidney Herbert as a 
witness to the fact of the disgrace, I must add my conviction 
that his own part in the business was wholly beneficent. 
Some research among the documents entitles me, perhaps, 
to express entire agreement with Mr. Kinglake's remark 
upon " what might have been if the Government, instead of 
appointing a Commission of enquiry on the 23rd of October, 
had then delegated Mr. Sidney Herbert to go out for a 
month to the Bosphorus, and there dictate immediate action." 
At home, Mr. Herbert was a good man struggling in the toils. 
The fact is that, though there were some individuals palpably 
to blame, the real fault was everybody's or nobody's. It 


was the fault of a vicious system, or rather the vice was that 
there was no system at all, no co-ordination, but only 
division of responsibility. The remarks of Mr. Herbert, 
just quoted, point to the evil, and on every page of the 
Blue-books it is written large. There were at least eight 
authorities, working independently of each other, whose 
co-operation was yet necessary to get anything well done. 
There was the Secretary of State ; there was the War Office 
(under the Secretary-aZ-War) ; there were the Horse Guards, 
the Ordnance, the Victualling Office, the Transport Office, 
the Army Medical Department, and the Treasury, The 
Director-General of the Medical Department in London 
told the Roebuck Committee that he was under five distinct 
masters — the Commander-in-Chief, the Secretary of State, 
the Secretary-at-War, the Master-General of Ordnance, and 
the Board of Ordnance. The Secretary of State said that 
he had issued no instructions as to the hospitals ; he had 
left that to the Medical Board. But the Medical Director- 
General said that it would have been impertinent for him 
to take the first step.^ If I were writing the history of the 
Crimean War, or of the Government Offices, other funda- 
mental reasons for the disgraceful state of things in the 
hospitals — notably the miscalculated plan of military cam- 
paign — would have to be taken into account ; but I am 
writing only the life of Miss Nightingale, and all that under 
this head the reader need be asked to bear in mind is this : 
That the root of the evils which had to be dealt with was 
division of responsibihty, and reluctance to assume it. 

The third conclusion of the official inquiries, which I 
want to emphasize, is contained in a passage in the Roebuck 
Committee's Report, which prefaced a reference to Miss 
Nightingale's mission : " Your Committee in conclusion 1 
cannot but remark that the first real improvements in the ' 
lamentable condition of the hospitals at Scutari are to be 
attributed to private suggestions, private exertions, and 
private benevolence." 

So, then, we see that there were disgraceful evils at 
Scutari needing amendment, and that in order to amend 
them what was needed was bold initiative. This it was that 

^ Roebuck Committee, Fifth Report, pp. 17, 19. 


Miss Nightingale supplied. The popular voice thought of 
her only or mainly as the gentle nurse. That, too, she was ; 
and to her self-devotion in applying a woman's insight to a 
new sphere, a portion of her fame must ever be ascribed. 
But when men who knew all the facts spoke of her " com- 
manding genius," ^ it was rather of her work as an adminis- 
trator that they were thinking. " They could scarcel}' 
realize without personally seeing it," Mr. Stafford told the 
House of Commons, " the heartfelt gratitude of the soldiers, 
or the amount of misery which had been relieved " by Miss 
Nightingale and her nurses ; and, he added, " it was im- 
possible to do justice, not only to the kindness of heart, 
but to the clever judgment, the ready intelligence, and the 
experience displayed by the distinguished lady to whom 
this difficult mission had been entrusted." These were the 
qualities which enabled her to reform, or to be the inspirer 
and instigator of reforms in, the British system of military 
hospitals. She began her work, where it lay immediately 
to her hand, in the Barrack Hospital at Scutari. She did 
the work in three ways. She applied an expert's touch and 
a woman's insight to a hospital hitherto managed exclusively 
by men. She boldly assumed responsibility, and did things 
herself which she could find no one else ready to do. And, 
thirdly, she was instant and persistent in suggestion, ex- 
hortation, reproaches, addressed to the authorities at home. 
It wiU not be possible to keep these three branches of our 
subject entirely distinct ; but in the main they will form 
the topics successively of the next three chapters. 

^ Dean Stanley, Memorials of Edward and Catherine Stanley, 2nd ed., 
P- 335- So, too, Mr. Sidney Herbert, in his speech at WiUis's Rooms on 
Nov. 29, 1855, referred to her as " a woman of genius." 


THE expert's touch 

Write that, when pride of human skill 

Fell prostrate with the weight of care, 
And men pray'd out for some strong will. 

Some reason 'mid the wild despair, — 
The loving heart of Woman rose 

To guide the hand and clear the eye. 
Gave hope amid the sternest woes, 

And saved what man had left to die. 

R. M. M. : "A Monument for Scutari," 
Times, Sept. lo, 1855. 

Miss Nightingale arrived at Scutari, as we have seen, on 
November 4, and was immediately in the midst of heavy 
work in nursing. The Battle of Balaclava was fought on 
October 25 ; and on the day after her arrival, the Battle 
of Inkerman. 

" Miss N. is decidedly well received," reported Mr. 
Bracebridge to Mr. Herbert (Nov. 8), A few days later, the 
Commander of the Forces, in a letter dated " Before Sevasto- 
pol, Nov. 13th, 1854," bade her a hearty welcome, tendering 
to her a " grateful acknowledgment for thus charitably 
devoting yourself to those who have suffered in the service 
of their country, regardless of the painful scenes you may 
have to witness." With some of the military officers she 
had difficulties ; from the Commander she received nothing 
but courtesy, sympathy, and support. 

" Miss Nightingale cannot but here recall," she wrote after 
the war, " with deep gratitude and respect, the letters of sup- 
port and encouragement which she received from the late Lord 
Raglan, who invariably acknowledged all that was attempted, 



for the good of his men, with the deepest feehng, as well as with 
the high courtesy and true manhness of his character. No tinge 
of petty jealousy against those entrusted with any commission, 
pubUc or private, connected with the Army under his command, 
ever alloyed his generous benevolence." ^ 

The behaviour of some (but not all) of the military 
officers, and of the men who caught their manners from the 
officers, was at first different. There was sometimes ill- 
disguised jealousy, and consequent sulkiness. Outwardly, 
there was politeness ; but difficulties were put into the way 
of " the Bird," as some of them called her behind her back, 
and she was left to shift for herself, when a little help might 
have eased the burden. " It is the Bird's duty," they 
would say. Miss Nightingale, however, kept perfect com- 
mand of her temper. " She was always calm and self- 
possessed," says one of the Roman Catholic Sisters ; " she 
was a perfect lady through everything — never overbearing. 
I never heard her raise her voice." 

Upon most of the medical men on the spot she made a 
good impression at once, because she proved herself to be 
efficient and helpful. She applied the expert's touch. But 
there were doctors and doctors. Some welcomed her and 
her staff, and made as much use of them as possible. Others 
resented their presence, and threw obstacles in their way. 
There was one ward in which the junior medical officers 
had been advised by their superior to have as little to do 
with Miss Nightingale as possible. She showed exemplary 
patience under this kind of opposition, and gradually won 
her way into the confidence of most of the doctors. ^ " Miss 
Nightingale told us," says one of her staff, " only to attend 
to patients in the wards of those surgeons who wished for 
our services, and she charged us never to do anything for the 
patients without the leave of the doctors." ^ " The number 
of nurses admitted into each division of a hospital depended," 
Miss Nightingale herself explained, " upon the medical 
officer of that division, who sometimes accepted them, 
sometimes refused them, sometimes accepted them after 
they had been refused ; while the duties they were permitted 

^ Statement to Subscribers, p. vii. ^ See Pincoffs, p. 79. 

' Eastern Hospitals, vol. i. p. 71. 


to perform varied according to the will of each individual 
medical officer." ^ That this ill -defined state of things 
called constantly for tact and diplomacy on the part of the 
Lady Superintendent, and often for severe self-restraint, will 
readily be perceived. 

On the first arrival of Miss Nightingale and her staff, the 
wounded were pouring in fast, and the nurses were told off 
to the worst surgical cases : — 

" Comfort yourselves," wrote Mr. Bracebridge to her parents 
(Nov. 20), " that what the good Flo has done and is doing is 
priceless, and is felt to be so by the medical men — the cleanliness 
of the wounds, which were horribly dirty, the general order and 
arrangement. There has not been half the jealousy I expected 
from them towards her." 

" As to Miss Nightingale and her companions," wrote Mr. 
Osborne to Mr. Herbert (Nov. 15), " nothing can be said too 
strong in their praise ; she works them wonderfully, and they are 
so useful that I have no hesitation in saying some 20 more of 
the same sort would be a very great blessing to the establishment. 
Her nerve is equal to her good sense ; she, with one of the nurses 
and myself, gave efficient aid at an amputation of the thigh 
yesterday. She was just as cool as if she had had to do it herself." ^ 

A letter from Miss Nightingale herself to her friend of 
Harley Street, Dr. Bowman, the ophthalmic surgeon, gives 
a lively account of some of her difficulties, and a vivid pic- 
ture of the horrors amid which her work was done (Nov. 

" / came out, Ma'am, prepared to submit to everything, to be 
put upon in every way. But there are some things. Ma'am, one 
can't submit to. There is the Caps, Ma'am, that suits one face, 
and some that suits another. And if I'd known. Ma'am, about the 
Caps, great as was my desire to come out to nurse at Sciitari, I 
wouldn't have come. Ma'am." — Speech of Mrs. Lawfield. — Time 
must be at a discount with the man who can adjust the balance 
of such an important question as the above, and I for one have 
none : as you will easily suppose when I tell you that on Thursday 
last we had 1715 sick and wounded in this Hospital (among whom 
120 Cholera Patients), and 650 severely wounded in the other 
Building called the General Hospital, of which we also have 
charge, when a message came to me to prepare for 510 wounded 

^ Notes, p. 152. ^ Stanmore, vol. i. p. 349. 


on our side of the Hospital who were arriving from the dreadful 
affair of the 5th November from Balaklava, in which battle were 
1763 wounded and 442 killed, besides 96 officers wounded and 
38 killed. I always expected to end my Days as Hospital Matron, 
but I never expected to be Barrack Mistress. We had but half 
an hour's notice before they began landing the wounded. Be- 
tween one and 9 o'clock we had the mattresses stuffed, sewn 
up, laid down — alas ! only upon matting on the floor — the men 
washed and put to bed, and all their wounds dressed. I wish 
I had time. I would write you a letter dear to a surgeon's heart. 
I am as good as a Medical Times ! But oh ! you Gentlemen of 
England who sit at Home in all the well-earned satisfaction of 
your successful cases, can have little Idea from reading the 
newspapers of the Horror and Misery (in a Military Hospital) of 
operating upon these dying, exhausted men. A London Hospital 
is a Garden of Flowers to it. 

We have had such a Sea in the Bosphorus, and the Turks, 
the very men for whom we are fighting, carry in our Wounded 
so cruelly, that they arrive in a state of Agony. One amputated 
Stump died 2 hours after we received him, one compound 
Fracture just as we were getting him into Bed — in all, twenty-four 
cases died on the day of landing. The Dysentery Cases have died 
at the rate of one in two. Then the day of operations which 
follows. . . . 

We are very lucky in our Medical Heads. Two of them are 
brutes, and four are angels — for this is a work which makes either 
angels or devils of men and of women too. As for the assistants, 
they are all Cubs, and will, while a man is breathing his last 
breath under the knife, lament the " annoyance of being called 
up from their dinners by such a fresh influx of wounded " ! 
But unlicked Cubs grow up into good old Bears, tho' I don't 
know how ; for certain it is the old Bears are good. We have 
now four miles of Beds, and not eighteen inches apart. 

We have our Quarters in one Tower of the Barrack, and all 
this fresh influx has been laid down between us and the Main 
Guard, in two Corridors, with a hue of Beds down each side, just 
room for one person to pass between, and four wards. Yet in 
the midst of this appalUng Horror (we are steeped up to our necks 
in blood) there is good, and I can truly say, Uke St. Peter, " It is 
good for us to be here " — though I doubt whether if St. Peter 
had been here, he would have said so. As I went my night- 
rounds among the newly wounded that first night, there was 
not one murmur, not one groan, the strictest discipline — the 
most absolute silence and quiet prevailed — only the steps of the 
Sentry — and I heard one man say, " I was dreaming of my friends 
at Home," and another said, " I was thinking of them." These 


poor fellows bear pain and mutilation with an unshrinking heroism 
which is really superhuman, and die, or are cut up without a 

The wounded are now lying up to our very door, and we are 
landing 540 more from the Andes. I take rank in the Army as 
Brigadier General, because 40 British females, whom I have with 
me, are more difficult to manage than 4000 men. Let no lady 
come out here who is not used to fatigue and privation. . . . 
Every ten minutes an Orderly runs, and we have to go and cram 
Unt into the wound till a Surgeon can be sent for, and stop the 
Bleeding as well as we can. In all our corridor, I think we have 
not an average of three Limbs per man. And there are two Ships 
more "loading" at the Crimea with wounded — (this is our 
Phraseology). Then come the operations, and a melancholy, 
not an encouraging List is this. They are all performed in the 
wards — no time to move them ; one poor fellow exhausted with 
haemorrhage, has liis leg amputated as a last hope, and dies ten 
minutes after the Surgeon has left him. Almost before the breath 
has left his body it is sewn up in its blanket, and carried away 
and buried the same day. We have no room for Corpses in the 
Wards. The Surgeons pass on to the next, an excision of the 
shoulder- joint, beautifully performed and going on well. Ball 
lodged just in the head of the joint and fracture starred all round. 
The next poor fellow has two Stumps for arms, and the next has 
lost an arm and a leg. As for the Balls they go in where they hke 
and come out where they like and do as much harm as they can 
in passing. That is the only rule they have. . . . 

I am getting a Screen now for the amputations, for when one 
poor fellow, who is to be amputated to-morrow sees his comrade 
to-day die under the knife, it makes impression and diminishes 
his chance. But, anyway, among these exhausted Frames, the 
mortality of the operations is frightful. We have Erysipelas, 
fever and gangrene, and the Russian wounded are the worst. 

We are getting on nicely though in many ways. They were 
so glad to see us. The Senior Chaplain is a sensible man, which 
is a remarkable Providence. ... If you ever see Mr. Whitfield, 
the House Apothecary of St. Thomas', will you tell him that the 
nurse he sent me, Mrs. Roberts, is worth her weight in gold. . . . 
Mrs. Drake is a Treasure. The four others are not fit to take care 
of themselves, but they may do better by and bye if I can convince 
them of the absolute necessity of discipline. We hear there was 
another engagement on the 8th and more wounded, who are 
coming down to us. This is only the beginning of things. 

The Senior Chaplain had the sense, among other things, 
to appreciate Miss Nightingale. " The Chaplain says," 

i86 THE NURSES pt.h 

wrote Mr. Nightingale to a friend (Dec. 12), " ' Miss 
Nightingale is an admirable person ; none of us can suf- 
ficiently admire her. A perfect lady, she wins and rules 
every one, the most rugged official melts before her gentle 
voice, and all seem glad to do her bidding,' " 

Florence Nightingale had that " excellent thing in 
woman " : Lady Lovelace, in the poem already quoted, spoke 
of her friend's " soft, silvery voice " ; but it could com- 
mand, as well as charm, unless indeed it were the charm 
that commanded. " She scolds sergeants and orderlies 
all day long," wrote Mr. Bracebridge to her parents 
(Nov. 20) ; " you would be astonished to see how fierce 
she is grown." That was written, of course, in fun ; but 
there was always a note of calm authority in her voice. 
A Crimean veteran recalled her passing his bed with 
some doctors, who were saying, " It can't be done," 
and her replying quietly, " It must be done." " I seem 
to hear her saying it," writes one who knew her well ; 
" there seemed to be no appeal from her quiet conclusive 

With regard to the nurses, Miss Nightingale, as may be 
gathered from the letter to Dr. Bowman, found them rather 
a difficult team to drive, and this fact should be remembered 
in considering an episode presently to be related (II.)- She 
had to send one nurse back to England at once, filling the 
vacancy by a German Sister from the Kaiserswerth colony 
at Constantinople. Of the six nurses supplied by St. John's 
House, " four, alas ! returned shortly from Scutari, not being 
prepared to accept the discipline and privations of the life 
out there." ^ We need not be too impatient with Mrs. 
Lawfield (who turned out an excellent nurse) for her objec- 
tion to the cap. The uniform, devised on the spur of the 
moment, seems to have been very much less becoming than 
that of the " Staff Nurse, New Style," with her " gown of 
silver gray, bright steel chain, and chignon's elegant array." ^ 
The Nightingale nurses in the East wore " grey tweed 
wrappers, worsted jackets, with caps and short woollen 
cloaks, and a frightful scarf of brown holland, embroidered 

^ 5^. John's House : a Record, p. 8. 
^ W. E. Henley, In Hospital. 


in red with the words, ' Scutari Hospital.' " ^ Such is the 
description of the costume worn by the seculars which is 
given by one of the Roman CathoHc Sisters, not without 
some pity as she thought of her own religious habit. But 
the short cloak should not be so contemptuously dismissed. 
" The red uniform cape worn by the ladies of the Queen 
Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service is modelled 
on that originally introduced by Florence Nightingale for 
the nurses whom she took with her to Scutari. This cape 
may therefore be regarded as a memorial to the great 
founder of military nursing." ^ As for the " frightful 
scarf " some such distinctive badge was a very necessary 
precaution amid the rough-and-tumble of a military 
depot and its camp-followers. A raw new-comer was seen 
to approach one of the nurses in the street. " You leave 
her alone," said his mate, " don't you see she's one of 
Miss Nightingale's women ? " Their cloth was respected 
throughout the camps ; but Miss Nightingale had to dismiss 
two or three for levity of conduct. On arriving at Scutari, 
she had placed ten in the General Hospital and twenty-eight 
in the Barrack Hospital, and in neither did she find it easy 
to maintain discipline. From time to time she transferred 
nurses, sending the best to other hospitals, keeping the less 
trustworthy under her own eye ; and sending some home, 
who were unwilling to stay or found incompetent, as other 
recruits arrived. Of the thirty-eight in the first party, she 
considered that not more than sixteen were really efficient, 
whilst five or six were in a class of excellence by themselves. 
The difficulties — including the great Dress Question — 
which Miss Nightingale had with her staff, appear clearly 
enough in the " Rules and Regulations for the Nurses 
attached to the Military Hospitals in the East," which Miss 
Nightingale presently sent home to Mr. Herbert, who had 
them printed, and handed to every candidate for appoint- 
ment as nurse. " As it has been stated," says the preamble, 
" that the nurses who have gone to the hospitals in the East, 

^ Memories of ike Crimea, by Sister Mary Aloysius, p. 17 The " fright- 
ful scarf " was a plain band worn, I suppose, over one arm and under 
the other. 

2 Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps (Bibliography B, No. 52), 
P- 393- 


have in some instances complained of being subject to hard- 
ships and to rules for which they were not previously pre- 
pared, and of having to do work differing from what they 
expected, it has been thought desirable to state distinctly 
the regulations relative to the outfit, clothing, duties, and 
position of nurses in military hospitals." The nurses, it 
is then set forth, " are required to appear at all times in the 
regulation dress with the badge, and never to wear flowers 
in their bonnet-caps, or ribbons, other than such as are 
provided for them, or are sanctioned by the superintendent." 
Another rule defines the precise quantities of spirituous 
liquor which a nurse will be allowed ; a third states that 
" no nurse will be allowed to walk out except with the 
housekeeper, or with a party of at least three nurses together, 
and never without leave previously obtained." The whole 
code shows the necessity which Miss Nightingale had found 
for enforcing strict discipline. ^ And even with these new 
regulations to back her, she still found discipline hard to 
enforce. Her official letters to the War Office complain of 
unsuitable recruits being sent out to her, and of the greater 
number of them as being " wholly undisciplined." 


In December 1854 Miss Nightingale was astonished to 
receive an announcement that a party of forty-seven more 
nurses, under the care of her friend. Miss Mary Stanley, 
were on their way to join her. She remonstrated, and 
threatened to resign : — 

" You have sacrificed the cause so near my heart," she wrote 
to Mr. Sidney Herbert (Dec. 15) ; " you have sacrificed me, a 
matter of small importance now ; you have sacrificed your own 
written word to a popular cry. You must feel that I ought to 
resign, where conditions are imposed upon me which render the 
object for which I am employed unattainable, and I only remain 
at my post till I have provided in some measure for these poor 

^ The manuscript of this document is preserved among the archives 
of the War Office. The text of these, " the earhest rules defining the 
position and duties of a female nurse in any military hospital," has been 
printed elsewhere (Bibliography B, No. 52). 


Mr. Herbert replied, as his biographer states, in terms 
of courtesy and kindhness, and without any trace of the 
bitterness which Miss Nightingale's vehemence might have 
evoked in a smaller-minded man. There is a letter to Mrs. 
Bracebridge (Dec. 27) in which Mrs. Herbert says : " I am 
heart-broken about the nurses, but I do assure you, if you 
send them all home without a trial, you will lose some really 
valuable women." The Minister had authorized Miss 
Nightingale, if on full consideration she thought lit, to 
return Miss Stanley's party to England at his own private 
expense. Her good sense soon showed her that such a 
course would be, as she wrote, " a moral impossibility " ; 
and in the end she made the best she could of what she con- 
sidered a bad job — to the great advantage, as it was to turn 
out, of the wounded soldiers, though at a gi^eat increase 
to her own responsibilities and difficulties. 

Much has been made in some quarters ^ of this episode, 
and it may be well here to explain Miss Nightingale's position 
clearly ; for the affair throws strong light upon the diffi- 
culties of her task. It is essential to know, in the first place, 
that Mr. Herbert had distinctly stated that the selection of 
nurses was to be exclusively in Miss Nightingale's hands. 
This is implied in his official instructions (p. 156), and was 
stated with the utmost emphasis in a letter " to a corre- 
spondent," which he had caused to be inserted in the news- 
papers of October 24. Already the cry had been raised that 
more nurses should be sent, and volunteers were clamouring 
for Ciilistment. Mr. Herbert thereupon wrote : — 

War Office, October 21 [1854]. . . . The duties of a hospital 
nurse, if they are properly performed, require great skiU as well 
as strength and courage, especially where the cases are surgical 
cases and the majority of them are from gunshot wounds. Persons 
who have no experience or skill in such matters would be of no 
use whatever ; and in moments of great pressure, such as must 
of necessity at intervals occur in a military hospital, any person 
who is not of use is an impediment. Many ladies, whose generous 
enthusiasm prompts them to offer their services as nurses, are 
httle aware of the hardships they would have to encounter, and 

^ Especially by Lord Stanmore in his Memoir of Sidney Herbert. He 
handles it, I think, with some needless asperity, and he might have men- 
tioned Mr. Herbert's letter which is here quoted. 


the horrors they would have to witness, which would try the 
firmest nerves. Were all accepted who offer, I fear we should 
have not only many inefficient nurses, but many hysterical 
patients themselves requiring treatment instead of assisting 
others. . . . 

No additional nurses will be sent out to Miss Nightingale 
until she shall have written home from Scutari and reported 
how far her labours have been successful, and what number and 
description of persons, if any, she requires in addition. ... No 
one can be sent out until we hear from Miss Nightingale that they 
are required. 

Miss Nightingale had not written home in that sense 
at all, but Mr, Herbert had sent the nurses. That was what 
she meant when she said that he had " sacrificed his own 
written word." " Had I had the enormous folly," she 
wrote to Mr. Herbert (Dec. 15), " at the end of eleven days' 
experience, to require more women, would it not seem that 
you, as a statesman, should have said, ' Wait till you can 
see your way better.' But I made no such request." She 
was an expert, and did not wish to be inundated with ama- 
teurs. Moreover, everybody at Scutari knew, as she wrote, 
the terms of Mr. Herbert's letter to the newspapers, and the 
medical men knew that she had not asked for any more 
nurses. Yet here was a new party sent out ; and, to make 
the encroachment on her domain the more marked, Miss 
Stanley had received instructions to, and reported herself 
to, not the Superintendent of the Nurses, but other officials. 
Miss Nightingale felt that her authority had been flouted, 
her position undermined. But personal considerations were 
not the cause of her vexation. It was not a case of "pique," 
as some people in England imagined. Mr. Herbert and she 
were engaged in making a new experiment. It was full of 
difficulties, and the only chance of success lay in the main- 
tenance of undivided responsibility and clearly established 
authority. Miss Nightingale could not quietly have accepted 
the new situation without sacrificing the key of the position. 
Had she acquiesced, she would have admitted that Mr. 
Herbert might henceforth send out nurses without consulting 
her, and without placing them expressly under her orders. 
She would have left herself at the mercy of any well-meaning 
person in England who thought that this or that might be 


helpful to her. Her judgment would no longer have been 
the governing factor ; while yet for any confusion or failure 
that might follow, she would be held responsible. Mr. 
Herbert thought, no doubt, that already the experiment 
had been a great success, as indeed it was, and he was 
eager to increase the scale of it. He might not un- 
reasonably think that, as the number of the wounded in- 
creased, so should the number of female nurses be increased 
also. Mr. Osborne's remark, cited above (p. 183), must 
have confirmed him in such an opinion. But to Miss 
Nightingale on the spot the case wore a very different 
aspect. We must remember the severe mental strain of 
her position ; the high pressure of work and emotion at 
which she was living, all the higher to one of her intensely 
sensitive conscientiousness ; the continual failure (to her 
critical mind) of attempts to reform cruel abuses ; the 
danger of real, acknowledged failure always present. In 
such a position, the arrival of a fresh batch of nurses, un- 
expected and unsolicited, must have seemed to her the 
break-up of all her plans, the destruction of the standard 
of nursing which she was painfully creating, the gravest 
peril to an experiment, still on its trial, and ever subject to 
hostile criticism. 

Immediate and practical difficulties were also great. 
There was no accommodation in the hospitals at Scutari 
available for additional female nurses. " The 46," wrote 
Mr. Bracebridge to Mr. Smith (Dec. 18), " have fallen on 
us like a cloud of locusts. Where to house them, feed 
them, place them, is difficult ; how to care for them, not 
to be imagined." The Principal Medical Officer flatly 
refused to have any more, and Miss Nightingale herself 
felt that she could not manage any more : — 

" I have toiled my way," she wrote (Dec. 15), " into the 
confidence of the Medical Men. I have, by incessant vigilance, 
day and night, introduced something like system into the dis- 
orderly operations of these women. And the plan may be said 
to have succeeded in some measure, as it stands. . . . But to 
have women scampering about the wards of a Military Hospital 
all day long, which they would do, did an increased number 
relax the discipline and increase their leisure, would be as im- 
proper as absurd." 


And there was a further objection, A considerable 
number of the second party were Roman CathoHcs, and Miss 
Stanley herself (as Miss Nightingale well knew) was on the 
verge of joining the Roman Communion. How much this 
factor in the case added to the force of Miss Nightingale's 
objections, we shall learn in a later chapter. Mr. Herbert 
thought, I suppose, that the additional nurses would be 
welcome to her because they came under the escort of a 
friend. But so strongly did Miss Nightingale feel on the 
subject, that Miss Stanley's part in the affair rankled the 
more. It was in the house of her friends, she felt, that 
she had been wounded. Their personal relations were 
further embittered by the case of a nurse whom Miss 
Nightingale (with the concurrence of the other authorities) 
felt obliged to dismiss, but whom Miss Stanley believed to be 
ill-used. Miss Nightingale's friendship with Mr. and Mrs. 
Herbert was in no way impaired. They had confessed 
themselves in the wrong ; and so she was deeply touched, as 
she wrote, by their kindness and generosity. But between 
her and Miss Stanley the breach was never healed. Their 
later lives took different directions, and they did not meet 

Miss Nightingale's resentment was perfectly justified. 
Her remonstrances to Mr. Herbert were necessary. His 
well-intentioned action was calculated to undermine her 
authority, and to aggravate her difficulties ; and, in both 
of these ways, to imperil the success of their joint experiment. 
Her handling of the crisis which had burst upon her was, 
perhaps, in relation to the subordinates unfortunate. Miss 
Stanley was accompanied by Dr. Meyer, a medical man, 
and Mr. Jocelyne Percy, who had gone out (as Mrs. Herbert 
wrote to Mrs. Bracebridge) devoted to Miss Nightingale, 
" saying he would be her footman, etc." ^ " We picked 
out," added Mrs. Herbert plaintively, " the two men in 
England who, we thought, would help Flo most," and they 
returned sad and sore at their cold reception. Miss Nightin- 
gale, acting on advice she received on the spot, asked them 
to sign notes of their conversation with her ; ^ this rankled 

^ See below, p. 241. 
2 It was Mr. Bracebridge who took the notes of the interview. 


with them, and Mr. Percy made a grievance of it in England. 
Mrs. Herbert, in reporting all this to Mrs. Bracebridge 
(Jan. 7, 1855), made the final reflection : " Perhaps it is 
wholesome for us to be reminded that Flo is still a mortal, 
which we were beginning to doubt." Mortals have to deal 
with entanglements as best they may on the spur of the 
moment ; and those at a distance hardly made enough 
allowance for the difficulties with which Miss Nightingale 
was suddenly confronted, for the danger which Mr. Herbert's 
dispatch of unsolicited reinforcements involved, and, there- 
fore, for the importance which she attached to having all 
the conditions defined in black and white. 

Her practical genius and good sense speedily triumphed, 
however, over the difficulties of the case. In agreeAl'ent 
with the medical authorities, the number of female nurses 
at Scutari was raised to 50, and Miss Nightingale weeded 
out some of her original staff in favour of new-comers. 
Others of them were sent to the hospitals at Balaclava 
(p. 254) ; and others to those at Koulah (p. 174). Miss 
Stanley, whose intention it had been to return to England 
as soon as she had deposited her party, remained for several 
months in charge at the latter place, not administering the 
nursing service altogether according to Miss Nightingale's 
ideas,^ but rendering aid to the afflicted of which her brother, 
the Dean, has left us so charming and sympathetic a 
memorial. 2 

In the end, then, the scope of Miss Nightingale's experi- 
ment vvas considerably enlarged ; and the deeper significance 
of the episode is to be found in the emphasis which it throws 
upon the novelty and difficulties of Miss Nightingale's 
enterprise. In these days, nurses, trained and distinctively 
attired, are so much part of everyday life, women-nurses 
serving under the Red Cross are so normal a feature of war, 
and Territorial nurses, smartly uniformed, are so familiar a 
unit of auxiliary forces, that some effort of imagination is 
required to realize the conditions which existed sixty years 

^ Miss Nightingale made some criticisms in an official letter to the War 
Office, May i, 1855 ; printed at pp. 389, 390 of the pamphlet No. 52 in 
Bibliography B. And in another letter (March 5) she begged Lord Pan- 
mure to relieve her of responsibility for the hospitals at Koulali. 

2 In an appendix to the second edition (1880) of his Memorials of Edward 
and Catherine Stanley. 



ago. We remember that a staff of nearly 800 female nm^ses 
was maintained for service in the South African War, and 
may be tempted to smile at the question between 20 and 40, 
or 40 and 90 for the Crimea. But it was Miss Nightingale 
who showed the way, and the way of the pioneer is rough. 
No one who reads this volume will suspect her of timidity, or 
think her wanting in self-confidence ; yet so conscious was 
she of the difficulties that in this instance she under-rated 
her power, and was anxious to keep the experiment within 
much narrower limits than it assumed. Her original idea 
had been to limit the number of female nurses to 20, but at 
various dates after Miss Stanley's arrival she sent home for 
more nurses, and, before the war was over, she had had 
control of 125. 


Miss Nightingale's reluctance to assume the superintend- 
ence of additional nurses will be the more readily understood 
when we pass to the multifarious duties which circumstances 
led her to discharge. 

" Ha\dng understood," she wrote to Lord Stratford de 
Redcliffe (Nov. 7), " that Your Excellency has the power of 
drawing upon Government for the uses of the sick and wounded, 
I beg to state that there is at present a great deficiency of linen 
among the men in the Hospitals until the Government Stores 
can arrive and be appropriated to them. A hundred pairs of 
sheets and 200 shirts might be applied to such a temporary 
purpose, and would never be de trop. Also a few American 
stoves, upon which we might prepare delicate food for the worst 
cases, who require to be fed every two or three hours, which is 
of course impossible for the Medical Ofiicers and Orderlies to 
attend to ; many deaths are necessarily the consequence." 

This suggestion to the Ambassador, made on the third 
day after Miss Nightingale's arrival, serves to introduce two 
main directions in which she appHed a woman's insight to 
the condition of things at Scutari. Efficient nursing re- 
quires, she well knew, cleanliness and delicately cooked food. 
She set herself with characteristic energy to supply these 
necessities. She found " not a basin, nor a towel, nor a bit 
of soap, nor a broom," and instantly requisitioned 300 


scrubbing brushes. " The first improvements took place," 
said Mr. Macdonald, " after Miss Nightingale's arrival — 
greater cleanliness and greater order. I recollect one of the 
first things she asked me to supply was 200 hard scrubbers 
and sacking for washing the floors, for which no means 
existed at that time." ^ Miss Nightingale had foreseen that 
washing would be one of the first things necessary. During 
the voyage out, as the ship was approaching Constantinople, 
one of the party went up to her and said earnestly, "Oh, 
Miss Nightingale, when we land, don't let there be any red- 
tape delays, let us get straight to nursing the poor fellows ! " 
" The strongest will be wanted at the wash-tub," was the 
reply. Until Miss Nightingale arrived, the number of shirts 
washed during a month was six.^ Up to the date of her 
arrival, the Purveyor-General had contracted for the washing 
of the hospital bedding, and of the linen of the patients. 
Simultaneously, however, with the arrival of the wounded 
from Inkerman, it was found that the contractor had broken 
down in the latter part of his contract. And even with 
regard to the former part, the bedding was washed. Miss 
Nightingale discovered, in cold water. She insisted upon 
hot ; the more since it was found, as the Duke of Newcastle's 
commissioners reported, that many of the articles sent back 
from the wash as clean, had to be destroyed as being in fact 
verminous. Miss Nightingale accordingly took a Turkish 
house, had boilers supplied in it by the Engineer's Office, 
employed soldiers' wives to do the washing, and thus gave 
the sick and wounded the comfort of clean linen. All this 
was paid for partly out of her private funds and partly by 
the Times fund. 

Yet more important, perhaps, to the comfort and 
recovery of the sick, were Miss Nightingale's " Extra Diet 
Kitchens." When she came to the Barrack Hospital she 
found that all the cooking was done in thirteen large coppers, 
situated at one end of the vast building. The patients' beds 
extended over a space of from three to four miles (including, 

^ Roebuck Committee, Q. 6140. 

* Tliis fact, reported by the Roebuck Committee, barbed one of Mr. 
Kinglake's sarcasms against the males (vi. 427 n.). It also greatly im- 
pressed John Bright. See Mr. G. M. Trevelyan's Life of him, 1913, p. 


of course, both wards and corridors) ; it took three or four 
hours to serve the ordinary dinners, and there were no 
faciHties whatever for preparing dehcacies between times. 
Within ten days of her arrival. Miss Nightingale had remedied 
this defect. She opened two " extra diet kitchens " in 
different parts of the building, and had three supplementary 
boilers fixed on one of the staircases for the preparation of 
arrowroot and the like. As explained more fully below 
(p. 201), nothing was supplied except in accordance with 
medical directions ; and she met the doctors' requisitions 
out of her private stores only when the government stores 
failed. " It is obvious," she explained, " that Miss Nightin- 
gale would have shielded herself from heavy responsibility 
by adhering, and by obtaining the adherence of the medical 
officers, to the strict precedents of Military Hospital Regula- 
tions, according to which the materials for the Extra Diets 
would have been sent in to her by the purveyor without 
requisition, in the same manner as is practised in the case 
of the ordinary diets ; but she felt that in doing so she would 
most frequently be defeating the object she was sent to carry 
out, for in the majority of cases the purveyor had either no 
supply, or a supply of a very indifferent quality of the 
articles required." ^ It is safe to say that many lives were 
saved by the application by Miss Nightingale of the good 
housewife's care to the kitchen of the hospitals. The 
woman's eye was not above distinguishing between bone 
and gristle and meat in the men's dinner, and she wanted 
to have the meat issued from the stores boned, so that one 
patient should not get all bone, another all gristle, and 
another all meat. But on this point she was beaten. The 
Inspector-General informed her that it would require a new 
" Regulation of the Service " to " bone the meat " ! ! The 
notes of exclamation are hers.^ In the culinary department 
an invaluable volunteer arrived in 1855 in the person of 
Alexis Soyer, once famous as the chef of the Reform Club, 
and still alive as M. Mirobolant in Thackeray's Pendennis. 
M. Soyer rearranged and partly superseded Miss Nightin- 
gale's kitchens at Scutari. We shall meet with him and his 
good work again when we accompany her to the Crimea. 

^ Statement, p. 26 n. * Letter to Mr. Herbert, Feb. 5, 1855. 


Miss Nightingale was not long at Scutari without being 
touched by the pitiable condition of the women camp- 
followers, separated often from their regiments, and in a very 
forlorn state. Miss Nightingale deputed the care of them in 
large measure to ]\Irs. Bracebridge, who, with her husband, 
collected and administered a separate fund for giving 
assistance to the wives, women, and children of soldiers at 
Scutari. A Lying-in Hospital was organized ; and Miss 
Nightingale found employment for many of the women, both 
in washing as aforesaid, and in making up old linen into 
various hospital requisites. Here, too, helpful volunteers 
presently arrived. The Rev. Dr. and Lady Alicia Blackwood 
were moved after the Battle of Inkerman to go out to Scutari 
and see if they could be of use. Dr. Blackwood asked and 
obtained an appointment as a military chaplain ; and, on 
their arrival, Lady Alicia went straight to Miss Nightingale 
and asked what she could do to help : — 

" The reply she gave me," wrote Lady Alicia, " or rather 
the question she put me in reply, after a few seconds of silence, 
with a peculiar expression of countenance, made an indelible 
impression. ' Do you mean what you say ? ' ' Yes, certainly ; 
why do you ask me ? ' ' Because I have had several such ap- 
plications before, and when I have suggested work, I found it 
could not be done, or some excuse was made ; it was not exactly 
the sort of thing intended, it required special suitability, &c.' 
' Well,' I replied, ' I am in earnest ; we came out here with no 
other wish than to help where we could.' ' Very well, then, 
you really can help me if you will. In this Barrack are now 
located some two hundred poor women in the most abject misery. 
A great number have been sent down from Varna ; they are in 
rags, and covered with vermin. My heart bleeds for them ; but 
my work is wdth the soldiers, not with their wives. Now, will 
you undertake to look after them ? If you will take them as 
your charge, I will send an orderly who will show you their 
haunts.' " ^ 

Lady Alicia went, and with her husband was of great 
assistance. Miss Nightingale was mindful also of the 
families of her nurses. Some of them were wives and widows 

^ Narrative of a Residence on the Bosphorus, p. 49. Any reader who 
wishes to be harrowed should read the following pages in Lady Alicia's 
Journal. She died in July 1913 in her 95th year. 

198 THE WOMAN'S EYE ft. n. 

who had left children at home. " Many things turn up," 
wrote Lady Verney to a friend, " for us to do for Florence ; 
as in looking after the children of her nurses." And Mrs. 
Nightingale wrote similarly (April 1855) : — 

Flo has been writing incessantly lately about her nurses' 
famiUes, for whom the best seem getting very anxious, and she 
scarcely mentions anything else. We have seen and heard much 
in visiting them which is a great pleasure to us. 

Before the Roebuck Committee, Dr. Andrew Smith, the 
head of the Army Medical Department in London, was 
asked, " What do you think was the result of Miss Nightin- 
gale's mission? " " I daresay," he answered, apparently with 
some reluctance, " it was very advantageous " ; and then, 
pulling himself together like a man and seeking to be just, he 
added : " There is no doubt about it ; because females are 
able to discover many deficiencies that a man would not 
think of, and they will look at things that a man will have no 
idea of looking to." A very true statement ; and perhaps 
as much as could reasonably be expected from an official 
on the defensive. But I think we shall find in the next 
chapter that some of the things which Miss Nightingale 
saw and did were not unworthy of the more comprehensive 
sweep claimed by Dr. Smith for the male facult}' of vision. 



I have no hesitation in saying that Miss Nightingale has exhibited 
greater power of organization, a greater famiUarity with details, while at 
the same time taking a comprehensive view of the general bearing of the 
subject, than has marked the conduct of any one connected with the 
hospitals during the present war. — Sidney Herbert (speech at Willis's 
Rooms, Nov. 29, 1855). 

Ostensibly, and by the strict letter of her original instruc- 
tions, Miss Nightingale was only Superintendent of the 
Female Nursing establishment. In fact, and by force of 
circumstances, she became a Purveyor to the Hospitals, a 
Clothier to the British Army, and in many emergencies a Dea 
ex machina. 

She became, first. Purvey or- Auxiliary to the hospitals at 
Scutari. My statements under this head might seem to be 
the inventions of a satirist if I did not disclaim credit for 
such ingenuity by adding that they are in every case ex- 
tracted from official sources. Of the ignorance existing in 
high places of the true state of things at Scutari, the best 
illustration is the answer which the British Ambassador gave 
when he was asked by the Commissioner of the Times Fund 
what things were most needed in the hospitals. " Nothing 
is needed," said Lord Stratford, and the only suggestion he 
could make to the Times was that it should devote its fund 
to building an English Church at Pera. Miss Nightingale 
thought that the service of God included the service of man, 
and Mr. Macdonald, the Times Commissioner, agreed with 
her. Between them, they established not a church, but a 
store. The Ambassador of course formed his conclusions 
from what he was told ; and the Principal Medical Officer at 



Scutari " stated that he wanted nothing in the shape of 
stores or medical comforts at a time when his patients were 
destitute of the commonest necessaries. Assistance which 
had been discouraged as superfluous was eventually found 
essential for the lives of the patients." ^ 

" I am a kind of General Dealer," wrote Miss Nightingale 
to Mr. Herbert (Jan. 4, 1855), " in socks, shirts, knives and forks, 
wooden spoons, tin baths, tables and forms, cabbage and carrots, 
operating tables, towels and soap, small tooth combs, precipitate 
for destroying lice, scissors, bedpans and stump pillows. I will 
send you a picture of my Caravanserai, into which beasts come 
in and out. Indeed the vermin might, if they had but ' unity of 
purpose,' carry off the four miles of beds on their backs, and 
march with them into the War Office, Horse Guards, S.W." 

The caravanserai was the large kitchen aforesaid (p. 173). 
" From this room," wrote one of the lady volunteers, 
" were distributed quantities of arrowroot, sago, rice pud- 
dings, jelly, beef-tea, and lemonade upon requisitions made 
by the surgeons. This caused great comings to and fro ; 
numbers of orderlies were waiting at the door with requisi- 
tions. One of the nuns or a lady received them, and saw 
they were signed and countersigned before serving. We 
used, among ourselves, to call this kitchen the tower of 
Babel. In the middle of the day everything and everybody 
seemed to be there : boxes, parcels, bundles of sheets, shirts, 
and old linen and flannels, tubs of butter, sugar, bread, 
kettles, saucepans, heaps of books, and of all kinds of rubbish, 
besides the diets which were being dispensed ; then the 
people, ladies, nuns, nurses, orderlies, Turks, Greeks, French 
and Italian servants, officers and others waiting to see Miss 
Nightingale ; all passing to and fro, all intent upon their 
own business, and all speaking their own language." ^ 

There was also in " The Sisters' Tower," as this part of 
the Barrack Hospital came to be called, a small sitting- 
room ; and in it " were held those councils over which Miss 
Nightingale so ably presided, at which were discussed the 
measures necessary to meet the daily-varying exigencies of 
the hospital. From hence were given the orders which 
regulated the female staff. This, too, was the office from 

^ Roebuck Committee, Fifth Report, pp. 20, 21. 
* Eastern Hospitals, vol. i. p. 68. 


which were sent those many letters to the Government, to 
friends and supporters at home, teUing of the sufferings of the 
sick and wounded." ^ In the Report of the Duke of New- 
castle's Commission, as also in Miss Nightingale's Statement 
to Subscribers, the full list of articles supplied by her may be 
found, tabulated with a precision and amplitude of detail 
characteristic of her. It included the miscellaneous utensils, 
etc., enumerated above, and also various articles of food 
required for the " extra diets " mentioned in the preceding 
chapter. The supplies were furnished partly by the Times 
Fund, partly out of moneys sent to her by benevolent persons, 
and partly out of the private purse of herself and her im- 
mediate friends. Much of the expenditure was ultimately 
refunded to her by the Government. The sick and wounded 
soldiers at Scutari would, I fear, have felt ill requited for 
the lack of linen, sheets, utensils, and extra diet by hearing 
that a beautiful new church was being built at Pera. 

But, it may be asked, were the things which Miss 
Nightingale procured and issued really wanted ? May 
they not have been her fads ? and was not hers perhaps a 
work of supererogation, for could not the official Purveyor 
have supplied them ? Such statements were widely made 
at the time, and one can readily understand the reason. 
By drawing upon her own stores. Miss Nightingale not only 
furnished the soldiery with the things they were needing, 
but " administered to the defaulting administrators a 
telling, though silent, rebuke ; and it would seem that 
undeT- this discipline the groove-going men winced in agony, 
for they uttered touching complaints, declaring that the 
Lady-in-Chief did not choose to give them time (it was 
always time the males wanted), and that the moment a 
want declared itself, she made haste to supply it herself." ^ 
But such complaints were entirely unfounded ; for it was 

^ Scutari and its Hospitals, by S. G. O., p. 24. 

* Kinglake, p. 430. He cites an example of the complaints in a private 
letter from Sir John Burgoyne to Lord Raglan (March 27, 1855). The 
complaint of the " groove -going men" has been revived in our own 
day by Lord Stanmore, who complains of Miss Nightingale {Memoir of 
Sidney Herbert, vol. i. p. 381) that she got things (which the Purveyor had 
failed to get) instead of informing him where they could be got. She 
acted on what is a golden rule in cases of emergency. When she wanted 
a thing done without delay, she did it herself. 


shown by the Duke of Newcastle's Commission that she 
never issued anything from her stores, nor did she allow 
any one else to do so, except upon the demand of the medical 
officers, and after inquiry of the Purveyor if he could supply 
them. I find among Miss Nightingale's papers a few of the 
original requisitions from medical officers. Here is one 
of them : — 

Palace Hospital, i8th January 1855. Madam — I have the 
honor to forward a requisition for 50 shirts and 50 warm flannels. 
The Purveyor has none. Knowing the extensive demand, I 
have Umited my request to meet the urgent requirements of the 
most serious cases in my charge. I have the honor to be. 
Madam, your most obedient humble servant, 

Edward Menzies, Staff Surgeon in Charge. 

The list, said the commissioners drily, " must not be regarded 
as conclusive proof that the articles mentioned in it were 
invariably wanting in the [Government] stores." Goods, 
they explained, " have been refused, although they were, 
to our personal knowledge, lying in abundance in the store 
of the Purveyor." Why refused ? Because the Purveyor 
took it upon himself to override the requisition of the 
medical officers ? Not at all, " This was done because 
they had not been examined by the Board of Survey. On 
one occasion, in the month of December last [1854], we found 
that this was the case with respect to Hospital rugs, and it 
is probable that this has not been the only instance of such 
an occurrence." Miss Nightingale's letters to Mr. Herbert 
show that it was a frequent occurrence. For instance, in 
February 1855, she received a requisition from the medical 
officers at Balaclava for shirts. She knew that 27,000 shirts 
had at her instance been sent by Government from home, 
and they were already landed. But the Purveyor would 
not let them be used ; "he could not unpack them without 
a Board." Three weeks elapsed before the Board released 
the shirts. The sick and wounded, lying shivering for want 
of rugs and shirts, would have expressed themselves forcibly, 
I fear, if it had been explained that they must shiver still 
until the Board of Survey's good time had arrived. 

Miss Nightingale's impatience at such delays was the 
origin, doubtless, of a story which had wide currency at 


the time that on one occasion she ordered a Government 
consignment to be opened forcibly, while the officials wrung 
their hands at the thought of what the Board of Survey 
might presently say. The story was mentioned in the 
Roebuck Committee ; and, though it was not confirmed, I 
think that Miss Nightingale was quite capable of the dreadful 
deed. Certainly she often insisted on obtaining first-hand 
evidence for herself, instead of trusting to the report of 
others ; for in one of her letters to Mr. Herbert (Dec. 21, 
1854), I firid this passage : " This morning I foraged in the 
Purveyor's Store — a cruise I make almost daily, as the 
only way of getting things. No mops, no plates, no wooden 
trays (the engineer is having these made), no slippers, no 
shoe-brushes, no blacking, no knives and forks, no spoons, 
no scissors (for cutting the men's hair, which is literally 
alive), no basins, no towelling, no chloride of zinc." Then 
she enumerates the things which Mr. Herbert should send 
from London, adding, " The other articles mentioned above 
as not now in store can be had at Constantinople " or 
Marseilles ; whence, I imagine, she proceeded to get them. 
Shopping at Scutari was not an afternoon's easy amuse- 
ment : — 

" English people," she wrote to Mr. Herbert (Dec. 10), " look 
upon Scutari as a place with inns and hackney-coaches, and 
houses to let furnished. It required yesterday, to land 25 casks 
of sugar, four oxen and two men for six hours, plus two passes, 
two requisitions, Mr. Bracebridge's two interferences, and one 
apology from a quarter-master for seizing the araha, received 
with a smile and a kind word, because he did his duty ; for every 
araba is required on Military store or Commissariat duty. There 
are no pack-horses and no asses, except those used by the 
peasantry to attend the market i^ miles off. An araba consists 
of loose poles and planks, extended between two axle-trees, 
placed on four small wheels, and drawn by a yoke of weak oxen. 
. . . Four days in the week we cannot communicate with Con- 
stantinople, except by the other harbour, i\ miles off, to which 
the road is almost impassable." 

But, somehow or other. Miss Nightingale was able to 
supply from her stores in hand, or to obtain from Constan- 
tinople or Smyrna or elsewhere, many things which the 
Purveyor-General could not, or would not, obtain. She 

204 AID TO THE ALLIES pt. ii 

had the forethought, as already related, to lay in at Mar- 
seilles on her way out a large supply of articles which she 
deemed likely to be useful ; and at Scutari Mr. Macdonald 
of the Times was untiring and resourceful. In the course 
of time, as funds continued to pour in, and the Government 
purveying became more efficient. Miss Nightingale was 
able on emergency to supply, not only the British, but their 
allies. In the spring of 1856, when the scourge of typhus 
committed sad ravages among the French, and the amour 
propre of the Intendance prevented the acceptance of the 
humane offer of medical comforts as a loan from the British 
Government, Miss Nightingale paved the way in over- 
coming this scruple by sending, as a present to the French 
Sisters and Medical Officers, large quantities of wine, arrow- 
root, and meat-essence. The Sardinian Sisters of Mercy 
also experienced much kindness at her hands when the 
destruction of a supply-ship by fire had left them without 
many things needed by their patients. She sent supplies 
also to the Prussian Civil Hospital, where many Britishers 
were treated ; for this good office she received a letter of 
thanks from the king of Prussia (Sept. 1856). To her 
quarters at Scutari, the Turks, too, often resorted for 
medicine and advice. In her, says an eye-witness, the sickly 
and needy of all nations found an active friend.^ " She 
embraced in her solicitude," said a French historian of the 
Crimean War, " the sick of three armies." ^ 

Miss Nightingale's initiative was further useful in 
extracting needed articles which were contained in the 
Government store, but yet had not been forthcoming, either 
because nobody else had asked for them, or because some- 
body had not been lucky enough to hit upon the right 
moment for asking. The system in force was most ingeni- 
ously contrived to bring about such a state of things. Articles 
were only supplied to the hospitals by the Purveyor on the 
requisition of a medical officer. The medical officers were 
overburdened with work, and perhaps omitted to send in a 

^ Pincoffs, pp. 82-83 ; a-nd see Hall, p. 378. 

^ La Guerre de Crimee, by M. L. Baudens, p. 104. Miss Nightingale 
paid a tribute to the " wise and enhghtened sanitary views " of M. Baudens. 
See her Subsidiary Notes, p. 133 w. 


requisition. Or they sent in a requisition, and the form 
was returned, marked " None in store." The articles may 
subsequently have been obtained or have arrived from 
England, but no note was kept in the Purveying Depart- 
ment of unfulfilled requisitions, and unless the medical 
officers requisitioned again, the articles were not supplied. 
The Commissioners found that from this cause patients were 
sometimes left \vithout beds, though there were bedsteads 
in store at the time. Happily Miss Nightingale had laid in 
a good many at Marseilles. 


There was another sphere in which Miss Nightingale 
came to the rescue of the sick and wounded from the blunders 
of official administration. She clothed them, 50,000 shirts 
in all having been issued from her store. The history of 
this private clothing department is curious. The regula- 
tions of the War Office assumed that every soldier brought 
with him into hospital an adequate kit, and it was no part 
of the Purveyor's duty to supply such a thing as a shirt. 
But three of the four generals of division in the Crimea 
had decided not to disembark the men's knapsacks. 
Sebastopol, it was confidently expected, would fall in a few 
days' time, and the men were to march light. In most cases 
they never saw their knapsacks again. ^ Hence the sick and 
wounded who arrived at Scutari immediately after the 
Battle of the Alma were destitute of all clothing except 
what was on their persons, and that was in many cases fit 
only for the furnace. No regulation existed whereby, if 
the soldier had for military reasons been deprived of his 
kit, the deficiency could be made good. The supply of a 
change of linen for the sick and wounded while in hospital, 
and of clean shirts to wear when invalided home or returned 
to the front, was perhaps a better allocation of benevolent 
funds than a supply of altar-cloths for a new church at Pera. 
At any rate Miss Nightingale thought so ; and thus she and 
her coadjutors were in some measure the clothiers as well 
as the purveyors of the wounded soldiers. 

^ For a reference to this matter by Miss Nightingale, see below, p. 224. 



Miss Nightingale assumed responsibility on one occasion 
as a builder, and this was at the time the usurpation which 
was most condemned in some quarters and the most com- 
mended in others. Some wards in the Barrack Hospital 
were in so dilapidated a condition as to be unfit for the 
reception of patients. The Commander-in-Chief had warned 
the hospital authorities that additional sick and wounded 
might shortly be upon their hands. The uninhabited wards 
might by prompt expenditure be made capable of accom- 
modating 800 cases. The expenditure, however, would be 
considerable, and no one seemed willing to incur it without 
superior authority. Miss Nightingale stepped into the 
breach. With the concurrence of Dr. McGrigor, a senior 
medical officer of the hospital, she represented the urgency 
of the case to Lady Stratford de Redcliffe. The Ambassador 
had been empowered, as we have seen, to incur expenditure ; 
and his wife, as she had given Miss Nightingale to under- 
stand, was the authorized intermediary between the Am- 
bassador and the authorities of the hospitals. Lady Strat- 
ford saw the urgent necessity of the work, and Mr. Gordon, 
the chief of the engineering staff, was instructed to put it 
immediately in hand. The workmen, 125 in number, 
presently struck, whereupon Miss Nightingale, on her own 
authority, succeeded in engaging 200 other workmen, and 
the work was rapidly completed. Lord Stratford subse- 
quently disclaimed any responsibility,^ and Miss Nightingale 
paid the bill out of her own private resources. The War 
Department, when the affair came to their knowledge, 
approved her action, and reimbursed her. This instance 
of " the Nightingale power " made a great impression, and 
she herself regarded it as the most beneficent thing she did 
in the East. The fame of the affair was noised abroad, and 
reached the British camp at Balaclava, where our unfailing 
friend. Colonel Sterling, heard of it with hot indignation. 
Miss Nightingale, he wrote, " coolly draws a cheque. Is 

^ My statements are based on a letter from Miss Nightingale to Mr. 
Sidney Herbert of Dec. 5, 1854. 


this the way to manage the finances of a great nation ? 
Voxpopuli? A divine afflatus. Priestess, Miss N. Magnetic 
impetus drawing cash out of my pocket ! " In normal times 
it would certainly not be the way to manage the finances of 
a great nation. And even in times of emergency the way 
which would of course have occurred to any well-regulated 
slave of routine was that Miss Nightingale should have 
spoken to some officer on the spot, that he should have 
represented the case to the Director-General of the Army 
Medical Department in London, that the Director-General 
should have moved the Horse Guards, and the Horse Guards 
the Ordnance, that the Ordnance should then have ap- 
proached the Treasury, and that after process of minut- 
ing and countersigning, the work should in due course have 
been officially ordered. But meanwhile Lord Raglan's 
wounded would have arrived at the hospital, and there 
would have been no wards ready to receive them. As it 
was, " the wards were ready," as Miss Nightingale reported 
to Mr. Herbert (Dec. 21), " to receive 500 men on the 19th 
from the ships Ripon and Golden Fleece. They were received 
in the wards by Dr. McGrigor and myself, and were generally 
in the last stage of exhaustion. I supplied all the utensils, 
including knives and forks, spoons, cans, towels, etc., 
clearing our quarters of these." 


In all these things Miss Nightingale may be warmly 
commended, but the officials need not be too hotly con- 
demned. They were but doing their duty, as they had 
learnt it ; and for the rest, it was the system, or want of 
system, that was at fault. Just as in London there was no 
co-ordination among the Departments, so at Scutari there 
was no unity of action, and no clear personal responsibility. 
"It is a current joke here," wrote Miss Nightingale from 
Scutari, " to offer a prize for the discovery of any one willing 
to take responsibility." It was never awarded, for Miss 
Nightingale herself was, I suppose, " barred." In writing 
to Mr. Herbert, she called many of the officials at Scutari 
by very hard names, but in other letters she admitted that 


the ultimate fault lay elsewhere. " The grand adminis- 
trative evil," she said (Dec. lo), "emanates from home — 
in the existence of a number of departments here, each 
with its centrifugal and independent action, uncounteracted 
by any centripetal attraction, viz. a central authority 
capable of supervising and compelling combined effort for 
each object at each particular time." Mr. Herbert might 
write, but the officials would not act. The force of custom 
was too strong. Miss Nightingale showed the Purveyor a 
letter from the Minister. " This is the first time," he said, 
" I have had it in writing that I was not to spare expense. 
I never knew that I might not be thrown overboard." 
"Your name," she had told Mr. Herbert (Nov. 25), "is 
continually used as a bug-bear. They make a deity of 
cheapness, and the Secretary at War stands as synonymous 
here with Jupiter Tonans, whose shafts end only in a brutum 
fulmen. The cheese - paring system, which sounds un- 
musical in British ears, is here identified with you by the 
officers who carry it out. It is in vain to tell the Purveyors 
that they will get no kudos by this at home." 

It should not be supposed, however, that Miss Nightin- 
gale was a spurner of rules, and a despiser of discipline, 
routine, and subordination. The very reverse is the case. 
Her whole career makes it probable, the character of her 
mind suggests it, and the administration of the funds placed 
at her disposal, with which the present chapter has mainly 
been concerned, proves it. If she shocked and staggered 
some official minds by her daring innovations, it was her 
strictness and insistence upon rules and regulations that was 
most criticized in unofficial quarters. She explained the 
matter very clearly in her final Statement to Subscribers. She 
had been placed by the Government in two positions of 
trust, each independent of the other. She had been ap- 
pointed superintendent of the nursing establishment ; and 
she further had received authority, as almoner of the " Free 
Gifts " (as the Royal Bounty was called), to apply them, and 
any other gifts derived from private sources, in the War 
Hospitals. In the second of these capacities, she could, if 
she had chosen, have administered her stores solely at her 
personal discretion, and have delegated a like discretion to 


other superintendents, sisters, or nurses appointed by her. 
But, except in a few special cases, which it were superfluous 
to enumerate, she rejected the hberty of personal discretion, 
and administered her funds only upon the requisition of 
medical officers. (She lays repeated stress on this fact, but 
I daresay that she herself was often the originating source of 
the requisitions. We have seen that in Harley Street she 
had learnt the art of managing overworked doctors.) Her 
statement of the reasons which governed her action is 
characteristic of her good sense. The exercise of personal 
discretion alone would have been the easier course ; but the 
objections to it were " the abrogation of ordinary rule ; the 
impossibility of preventing irregular issues, or at least of dis- 
proving the charge, and the unfitness of a large proportion of 
the women, who efficiently discharge the duty of the Nurses, 
to be the judges of the wants of soldiers and distribution of 
supplies to them ; and, farther, the abuse which some would 
undoubtedly make of the power. To those to whom the 
charge of dishonesty would not apply, religious partiality 
either would, or, what in matters of this kind is only less 
mischievous, would be believed to, apply." Next, there was 
the danger of patients being given other food than what the 
medical officers ordered. "It is needless to state to any 
sensible person, even without hospital experience, the mani- 
fold dangers of issuing to Nurses, whether ' Ladies, Sisters, 
or Nurses,' stores or facilities for procuring stores, to be 
distributed at their own discretion through the Wards. It 
is to be remembered that the employment of women in Army 
Hospitals is recent, that many experienced and able Surgeons 
are opposed to it, that, among these, some are honestly, and 
some are unscrupulously prone to find objections to it, and 
to exaggerate mischiefs arising from it ; that the Surgeon 
can, to a considerable extent, allow the Nurse to be useful, 
or force her to be comparatively useless, in his Wards ; that 
the War Hospitals are a bad field for investing the Nurse 
with powers and offices which she never exercises in Civil 
Hospitals. On these grounds, as strict an adherence to 
existing rules as was possible appeared to be the only 
course. . . . Miss Nightingale exacted and she rendered 
adherence to rules to a large extent, and she strictly reverted 
VOL. I p 


to them when any emergency, during which, at the instance 
of authorities, she had departed from them, had ceased. A 
position such as hers necessarily exposes the holder to 
attacks from different quarters upon opposite grounds. 
While previously existing authorities are disposed to com- 
plain of all novel expenditure as lavish, and tending to the 
relaxation of discipline by over-indulgence, others, who feel 
themselves checked or restrained by regulations in the 
distribution of comforts according to their ideas of benevo- 
lence, will naturally object to the obstruction, in their view 
unnecessarily, interposed to the current of public liberality. 
While the experience of all who have conducted the opera- 
tions of any extensive charity proves that the application of 
the ordinary axioms of business is the only road to success, 
it also sufficiently shows that such application is surely 
attended by no small measure of unpopularity."^ 

She saw the value of rules, and respected them, sometimes 
even when they were ridiculous. On a cold night in January 
1856, she was by the bedside of a dying patient, whose feet 
she found to be stone cold. She requested an orderly to 
fetch a hot-water bottle immediately. He refused, on the 
ground that his instructions were to do nothing for a patient 
without directions from a medical officer. Miss Nightingale 
stood corrected, and trudged off to find a doctor and make 
requisition for the bottle in due form. On a night in the 
following month, there was an unusually cold east wind, with 
a heavy snowfall. The patients in the ward attended by a 
civilian doctor were exposed to the wind and complained 
bitterly of the cold, but the regulation supply of fuel had given 
out. As the Government store was closed, Miss Nightingale 
waived the rule about applying first to the Purveyor, and 
gave the doctor fuel from her private stores. Next day the 
civilian doctor requisitioned in due form for an extra supply 
of fuel. He was refused. He carried his case to the 
Inspector-General. That official pleaded that he could not 
depart from the regulations which allowed only a certain 

^ Statement, pp. ig, 26. How greatly Miss Nightingale's strict rules 
were resented is shown by attacks upon her administration printed by 
certain of Miss Stanley's nurses. The most bitter of these is to be found 
in the text and appendix of The Autobiography of a Balaclava Nurse, 1857 
(No. 13, Bibliography B). See also Eastern Hospitals, 3rd ed., pp. 44-5, 52-3. 


quantity of wood for each stove. But, urged the civihan, 
exceptional cold calls for an extra allowance. Possibly, 
replied the Inspector-General with exemplary gravity, but 
" a Board must first sit " upon the question. The civilian 
smiled good-humouredly, and begged the great man to 
supply the wood first, and let the Board sit upon it when 
the weather was milder. The Inspector-General consented. 
These little incidents ^ throw a flood of light upon the diffi- 
culties through which Miss Nightingale had to thread her 
way. She was a firm believer in rules ; but she was one of 
those able administrators who have the sense to know, and 
the courage to act upon the knowledge, that rules sometimes 
exist only to be broken. 

And this was precisely the kind of initiative that the 
state of things in the hospitals at Scutari demanded. Miss 
Nightingale's adherence to rules may have brought un- 
popularity upon her from some of her subordinates or sub- 
scribers ; but her departure from rules, on due cause of 
emergency, and her cutting of knots — perhaps even her 
breaking open of consignments — brought from her official 
superior, Mr. Sidney Herbert, nothing but commendation 
and support. One sees this sometimes in his letters to 
herself, sometimes in those which he addressed to others, and 
which reflect the impression made upon him by her vigour 
and resource. " Pray recollect," he wrote to the senior 
medical officer (Dec. i, 1854), " i^ Y^^^ demands upon us 
here, whether for more men, more comforts, or more neces- 
saries, that there is no question of pounds, shillings and 
pence in such matters, but that whatever can be got must be 
got." And to the Purveyor-General he wrote : " This is 
not a moment for sticking at forms, but for facilitating the 
rapid and easy transaction of business. There is much 
mischief done to the public service by the stickling for pre- 
cedence and dignity between departments." Thus he wrote 
to many others also ; but he confessed to Mr. Bracebridge 
that he had " small hopes of these men. I have been 
writing in this sense before, and in vain ; but I trust there is 
some improvement. They are so saturated with the cheese- 
paring economy of forty years' peace, that there is no getting 

^ I take them from Pincoffs, pp. 58, 79. 


them to act up to a great occasion." ^ Miss Nightingale's 
initiative alone saved the situation. 

I have in this chapter separated various illustrations of 
that initiative from others which, in the preceding chapter, 
were attributed to " the woman's insight." But perhaps the 
separation, though convenient, is imaginary, and all the cases 
of Miss Nightingale's administrative energy are ascribable to 
the same cause. Such was Mr. Kinglake's opinion ; yet I 
have always suspected that the exceeding prominence given 
by him to the woman's touch in Miss Nightingale's work 
may in part have been caused by a desire to heighten the 
contrasts, and to barb with deadlier point his brilliant 
satire upon incompetence in official places. Let those who 
believe that it is possible to make a sharp delimitation 
between the " masculine " and the " feminine mind " settle 
this matter as they may. It seems to me that as there are 
old women of both sexes, so in both sexes there are men of 
business. My object in this chapter has been to show that 
Miss Nightingale brought to bear upon the task which con- 
fronted her at Scutari those high powers of the administra- 
tive mind, be they masculine or feminine, which, in moments 
of emergency, are capable of resource, initiative, decision. 

^ Memoir of Sidney Herbert, vol. i. pp. 357, 360. It will be noticed 
that he adopts some of Miss Nightingale's expressions. 



We have made Miss Nightingale's acquaintance, and are dehghted 
and very much struck by her great gentleness and simphcity, and wonder- 
ful, clear, and comprehensive head. I wish we had her at the War Office. 
— Queen Victoria (Letter to the Duke of Cambridge, 1856). 

" When one reads such twaddling nonsense," wrote Dr. Hall 
in November 1855 from the Crimea to Dr. Andrew Smith in 
London, " as that uttered by Mr. Bracebridge, and which 
was so much lauded in the Times because the garrulous old 
gentleman talked about Miss Nightingale putting hospitals, 
containing three or four thousand patients, in order in a 
couple of days by means of the Times funds, one cannot 
suppress a feeling of contempt for the man who indulges in 
such exaggerations, and pity for the ignorant multitude who 
are deluded by these fairy tales." ^ The contempt and pity 
of the Inspector-General of the hospitals in the East were 
not unmixed, I think we may surmise, with a good deal of 
anger, which, we may also surmise, was shared by his friend, 
the Director-General of the Medical Department in London. 
Such feelings were in the course of human nature, and the 
exaggeration in the statements cited by Dr. Hall is palpable. 
Miss Nightingale was not a magician. It would be an idle 
fairy tale to represent that by her exertions, either in a 
couple of days, or a couple of months, she effected a complete 
transformation scene. And it would be unfair to attribute 
solely to Miss Nightingale the gradual improvements which, 
though largely due to her initiative and resource (as described 

^ Life and Letters of Sir John Hall, p. 403, where " Bracebridge " is 
misprinted " Bainbridge." 



in preceding chapters) , were in fact the result of the exertions 
of many persons both at home and in the East. " I have an 
unbounded admiration of Miss Nightingale's qualifications," 
said a deputy medical inspector, " and of the manner she 
applies them, but I see dozens of things placed to her credit 
which I happen to know she had nothing to do with." ^ 
Such was doubtless the case. Yet though in one sense 
Dr. Hall was perfectly right, in another he was profoundly 
wrong. Neither he, however, nor any of the other medical 
men who shared his views, need be blamed for their 
misapprehension. The facts of the case can only be fully 
understood now that access is obtainable to the private 
correspondence of Miss Nightingale and other actors in the 

She did many things herself, but she was also the inspirer 
and instigator of more things which were done by others. 
She was able of her own initiative to institute considerable 
reforms ; but she was a reformer on a larger scale through the 
influence which she exercised. Though she was in truth no 
magician, there were men on the spot who, not being able to 
understand the secret and sources of her power, seemed to 
find something uncanny in it. Our good friend. Colonel 
Sterling, who hated the intrusion of petticoats into a cam- 
paign, was very much puzzled. The thing seemed to him 
" ludicrous," as we have heard, but he had to admit that 
" Miss Nightingale queens it with absolute power " ; and 
elsewhere he speaks of " the Nightingale power " as some- 
thing mysterious and " fabulous." The secret, however, is 
simple. " The Nightingale power " was due to causes of 
which some were inherent in herself and others were ad- 
ventitious. The inherent strength of her influence lay in the 
masterful will and practical good sense which gave her 
dominion over the minds of men. The adventitious sources 
of her power were that she had both the ear and the confid- 
ence of Ministers, and the interest and sympathy of the 
Court. I have called this accession of influence " adventi- 
tious," but it also accrued to her, in a secondary degree, from 
the inherent force of her character. 

The influence of the Court in strengthening, in speeding 

^ Roebuck Committee, Second Report, p. 723. 


up, and sometimes in chiding Ministers, especially in military 
matters, was, during the reign of Victoria, very great, as all 
readers of memoirs of the time are aware. ^ And from an 
early period of Miss Nightingale's mission the Court had 
expressed a lively interest in it, and had intimated a wish 
that full consideration should be paid to her experiences and 
impressions. " Would you tell Mrs. Herbert," wrote the 
Queen to Mr. Sidney Herbert (Dec. 6, 1854), " that I beg she 
would let me see frequently the accounts she receives from 
Miss Nightingale or Mrs. Bracebridge, as / hear no details of 
the wounded, though I see so many from officers, etc., about 
the battlefield, and naturally the former must interest me 
more than any one. Let Mrs. Herbert also know that I wish 
Miss Nightingale and the ladies would tell these poor, noble 
wounded and sick men that no one takes a warmer interest or 
feels more for their sufferings or admires their courage and 
heroism more than their Queen. Day and night she thinks 
of her beloved troops. So does the Prince. Beg Mrs. 
Herbert to communicate these my words to those ladies, as 
I know that our sympathy is much valued by these noble 
fellows." Upon the receipt of the Queen's message, the 
chaplain went through the wards reading it to the men, and 
copies of it were also posted on the walls of the several 
hospitals. " The men were touched," Miss Nightingale re- 
ported to Mr. Herbert (Dec. 25) . " ' It is a very feeling letter,' 
they said. ' She thinks of us ' (said with tears) . * Each 
man of us ought to have a copy which we will keep till our 
dj^ng day.' * To think of her thinking of us,' said another ; 
' I only wish I could go and fight for her again.' " The 
Queen's message was followed by more substantial proof of 
Her Majesty's interest, and here again Miss Nightingale was 
made the intermediary between the throne and the soldiers. 
Through Mr. Sidney Herbert, the Queen had ascertained from 
Miss Nightingale the kind of comforts which would be useful 

1 The classical passage in this sense is in the Life and Correspondence 
of the Rt. Hon. Hugh C. E. Childers, 1901, vol. ii. p. 104, where it is said, 
in relation to the Egyptian Expedition of 1882 : " The Queen with her 
well-known solicitude for the welfare of her Army, wrote many letters at 
tliis time to Mr. Childers to satisfy herself that all precautions were being 
taken for the health and comfort of the troops : one day alone brought 
seventeen letters from Her Majesty, or her private secretary, Sir Henry 

2i6 THE ROYAL GIFTS pt. n 

to the wounded, and the following letter was sent to her by 
the Keeper of the Queen's Purse : — 

Windsor Castle, December 14 [1854]. Madam — I have 
received the commands of Her Majesty the Queen to forward 
by the ship Eagle some packages containing some comforts and 
useful articles which Her Majesty wishes to be placed in your 
hands for distribution, as you may think fit, amongst the wounded 
and sick at Scutari. 

Her Majesty has wished to mark by some private contribution 
from herself her deep personal sympathy for the sufferings of 
these noble soldiers, and her admiration of the patience and forti- 
tude with which they have suffered both wounds and hardships. 

The Queen has directed me to ask you to undertake the 
distribution and application of these articles, partly because 
Her Majesty wished you to be made aware that your goodness 
and self-devotion in giving yourself up to the soothing attendance 
upon these wounded and sick soldiers had been observed by the 
Queen with sentiments of the highest approval and admiration ; 
and partly because, as the articles sent did not come within the 
description of Medical or Government stores, usually furnished, 
they could not be better entrusted than to one who, by constant 
personal observation, would form a correct judgment where they 
would be most usefully employed. 

The Queen sent presents of warm scarves and the like to 
Miss Nightingale's nurses. The position of Almoner of the 
Free Gifts and the confidence thus shown by the Sovereign 
greatly extended the prestige of Miss Nightingale, who was 
already known to command influence with the Government, 
to have the favour of the Press, and to be the darling of 
popular opinion. Officials might feel sore, and old fogeys 
might grumble, but the fact became palpable that " the 
Nightingale power " had to be reckoned with. 


It was, however, behind the scenes that Miss Nightingale's 
activity as a reformer was most powerfully exercised. In 
accordance with Her Majesty's command, reports from Miss 
Nightingale were forwarded to the Queen, and by her were 
sent on to the Duke of Newcastle. The Duke, writing to the 
Queen on December 22, 1854, assured Her Majesty that the 
condition of the Hospitals at Scutari, and the entire want of DEFEAT OF LORD ABERDEEN 217 

all method and arrangement in everything which concerns 
the comfort of the army, were subjects of constant and most 
painful anxiety to him. " Nothing can be more just," he 
added, " than all your Majesty's comments upon the state of 
facts exhibited by these letters, and the Duke of Newcastle 
has repeatedly, during the last two months, written in the 
strongest terms respecting them — but hitherto without 
avail, and with little other result than a denial of charges, the 
truth of which must now be considered to be substantiated." ^ 
It remained for Ministers to do what was possible to remedy 
the evils. 

Mr. Sidney Herbert, who (as already stated) had re- 
lieved the Duke of Newcastle of hospital matters, needed no 
compulsion to zeal, and Miss Nightingale's letters to him 
showed in what directions his zeal could most usefully be 
employed. The Government of Lord Aberdeen, defeated 
on the motion appointing the Roebuck Committee, resigned 
in January 1855, and Lord Palmerston became Prime 
Minister. The offices of Secretary for War and Secretary 
at War were amalgamated, and Lord Panmure became 
Secretary of State in place of the Duke of Newcastle. Mr. 
Herbert became for a short time Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, and then resigned. But Mr. Herbert begged 
Miss Nightingale to continue writing to him, promising 
to forward her representations to the proper quarters. 
Lord Palmerston knew her personally, and Lord Panmure 
paid deference to her wishes and opinions, so that the change 
of Government did not weaken her position. I have before 
me copies of a long series of letters addressed by Miss Nightin- 
gale to Mr. Herbert between November 1854 ^-^^ May 1855. 
He had given her private instructions that she was to act 
as eye and ear for him in the East. Of her letters a few were 
printed by Lord Stanmore in his Memoir of Sidney Herbert, 
where also a series of Mr. Herbert's letters, both to her and 
to various officials concerned, is given. A comparison of 
the one set with the other shows very clearly how much 
of the improvements which the Government of Lord Aber- 
deen and its successor were able to effect was due to the 
suggestions, the remonstrances, the entreaties of Miss 

^ The Letters 0/ Queen Vichwia, vol. iii. p. 79. 


Nightingale. Her letters are written with complete freedom 
and often in great haste. It would be possible to make 
isolated extracts from them which would suggest that the 
writer was a censorious and uncharitable scold. But such 
a selection would convey a misleading impression. Miss 
Nightingale wrote unreservedly about individuals, because 
she saw, as Mr. Herbert himself saw also, that the personnel 
was at fault, and that the most admirable instructions from 
home would be useless unless there were men of some 
initiative and vigour to carry them out on the spot. She 
wrote in anger, because she saw, what Mr. Herbert soon came 
to know, that such men were not forthcoming. " I write 
all this savagery," she said (March 5, 1855), " because of 
the non-success of your unwearied efforts for the good of 
these poor Hospitals." And then something must be allowed 
to the caustic humour which, when Miss Nightingale had a 
pen in her hand, could not be denied. " I shall make no 
further remark about him," she writes of a certain individual, 
" than that he is a fossil of the pure Old Red Sandstone." 
" Some newspaper has said of me," she writes on another 
occasion, " that I am the fourth woman (query, Old Woman) 
that has had to do with the war. Who are the other three ? " 
And she goes on for Mr. Herbert's amusement to nominate 
three of his principal subordinates for the distinction. It 
would argue a lack of humour to take such epistolary diver- 
sions with no grain of salt. But I do not propose to follow 
the example of a previous writer, who has had access to 
these letters, in recording Miss Nightingale's remarks on 
individuals. I desire rather to illustrate from the letters, 
and from other sources, first, the practical contributions 
to reform which Miss Nightingale made in some matters of 
detail, and then her firm grasp of the large principles of 
sound administration, 


Miss Nightingale performed the duties, as we have seen, 
of a Purveyor to the sick and wounded portion of the British 
army. The duty was assumed by her only because the home 
authorities had been deficient in foresight, or the authorities 
on the spot were inefficient and hampered by official re- HER REQUISITIONS FOR STORES 219 

strictions. Hence her earlier letters to Mr. Herbert were 
largely filled with urgent suggestions for the sending of 
Government stores. She begs for " hair mattresses, or 
even flock, as cheaper." The French hospitals were fur- 
nished throughout with hair mattresses ; the British soldier 
was suffering terribly from bed-sores. She pleads for knives 
and forks : " the men have to tear their meat like wild 
beasts." She suggests mops, plates, dishes, towelling, dis- 
infectants, and so forth, — obvious requirements, no doubt, 
but, as Mr. Herbert said, the responsible authorities seem 
to have shrunk sometimes from making requisitions lest 
they should thereby confess the inadequacy of their pre- 
parations. It was Miss Nightingale, again, who suggested 
the need of carpenters to do odd jobs in the vast and 
imperfectly equipped Turkish buildings which served for 
the British hospitals. She expressed herself most gratefully 
for an " invaluable reinforcement " of them which Mr. 
Herbert had sent out ; but their arrival necessitated a 
depletion in one department of her private stores. " These 
men," she wrote (Feb. 19, 1855), " ^ had to find with knives, 
forks, and spoons, in default of the Purveyor, who besides 
would not provide them with rations unless the Officer of 
Engineers wrote ' urgent ' and asked it ' as a favour.' " 

Some building operations. Miss Nightingale, as we have 
seen, took it upon herself to carry out ; and some sanitary 
reforms she was able, by her personal influence with the 
orderlies, to effect.^ " The instruction of the Orderlies in 
their business was," she said,^ " one of the main uses of us 
in the War Hospitals." Other sanitary engineering works, 
on a larger scale, were ultimately carried out, thanks in 
part to her urgent and detailed representations to the 
authorities at home. She had pointed out repeatedly to 
them that the mere issuing of orders was insufficient ; it 
was essential that executive powers should be placed in the 
hands of officials directly responsible for immediate action. 
When the Government was reconstituted after the fall of 
Lord Aberdeen, with Lord Panmure as Secretary for War, 
this lesson was taken faithfully to heart, and a Commission 

^ See, on these two points, above, p. 206, and below, p. 242. 
* In a letter to Colonel Lefroy, Aug. 25, 1856. 


of Three — Dr. John Sutherland, Dr. Hector Gavin, and 
Mr. Robert RawHnson, C.E. — was sent out to the East with 
full executive powers. They received their instructions on 
February 19, 1855, and within three days they sailed. " The 
tone of the instructions," says Kinglake, " is peculiar, and 
such as to make one believe that they owed much to feminine 
impulsion. The diction of the orders is such that, in house- 
keeper's language, it may be said to have ' bustled the 
servants.' " The credit for the bustling at home belongs, 
however, to Lord Shaftesbury, who had pressed the appoint- 
ment of the Commissioners upon Lord Panmure, and who 
was employed to draft their instructions.^ The duties of 
these Sanitary Commissioners were laid down with a minute- 
ness of detail which Miss Nightingale herself could not have 
excelled ; and they were then told that " the utmost ex- 
pedition must be used in the execution of all that is necessary 
at the place of your destination. It is important that you 
be deeply impressed with the necessity of not resting content 
with an order, but that you see instantly, by yourselves 
or your agents, to the commencement of the work and to 
its superintendence day by day until it is finished." ^ It 
is from the Report of the Sanitary Commissioners that I 
drew many of the statements about the condition of the 
hospitals given in an earlier chapter. They set about the 
work of sanitary engineering with great dispatch, and the 
death-rate in the hospitals fell, as the result of their reforms, 
with remarkable rapidity.^ " The sanitary conditions of 
the hospitals of Scutari," Miss Nightingale told the Royal 
Commission of 1857, " were inferior in point of crowding, 
ventilation, drainage, and cleanliness, up to the middle of 
March 1855, to any civil hospital, or to the poorest homes 
of the worst parts of the civil population of any large town 
that I have ever seen. After the sanitary works undertaken 
at that date were executed (June), I know no buildings in 
the world which I could compare with them in these points, 
the original defects of construction of course excepted." 
It was this Commission, as Miss Nightingale said afterwards 

^ Hodder's Life of Lord Shaftesbury , pp. 503 seq. 
* Report of the Sanitary Commission, March 1857. 
^ For the figures, see below, pp. 254, 314. 


to Lord Shaftesbury, that " saved the British Army." In 
Dr. Sutherland, the head of the Sanitary Commission, Miss 
Nightingale found a warm admirer and a stout supporter. 
During his stay at Scutari he acted as her physician. On her 
return to England she was on terms of intimate friendship 
with him and his wife ; and Dr. Sutherland was, as we shall 
hear, one of her close allies in the battle for reform in army 
hygiene. With Mr. (afterwards Sir Robert) Rawlinson she 
also formed a friendship which lasted to the end of his life. Dr. 
Gavin died in the Crimea during the work of the Commission. 
In the matter of stores, whatever suggestions or requisi- 
tions Miss Nightingale sent home were complied with by 
Government. But it was one thing to send stores out, and 
quite another to secure that they should arrive when and 
where they were wanted. " Sidney," wrote Mrs. Herbert to 
Mrs. Bracebridge (Nov. 17, '54), " has sent heaps of arm- 
chairs, etnas, and other comforts, but is in terrible fear that 
they may have been carried on with the troops to Balaclava 
from some blunder," Miss Nightingale's unerring eye for 
detail and perception of the point saw where the evil lay. 
First, there was no co-ordination among the departments 
at home in packing the things. The Prince (the wreck of 
which in the famous hurricane of November 14 was dis- 
astrous to the welfare of the soldiers) " had on board," she 
wrote, " a quantity of medical comforts for us, which were 
so packed under shot and shell as that it was found impossible 
to disembark them here, and they went to Balaclava and 
were lost," But there was a second obstacle. The army 
had encamped at Scutari as early as May 1854, but it had 
occurred to nobody to establish either there or at Constan- 
tinople an ofhce for the reception and delivery of goods. 
Packages, intended for the army or the hospitals, if they 
arrived in merchant vessels, were detained in the Turkish 
Custom House, from which they were never extracted 
without much delay, difficulty, and confusion ; many were 
partially or entirely destroyed ; and many abstracted and 
totally lost. " The Custom House," said Miss Nightingale, 
" was a bottomless pit, whence nothing ever issued of all that 
was thrown in." In the case of ships chartered by the 
Government, great masses of goods were necessarily landed 


together and stowed away promiscuously for want of time 
and space for sorting, and were often delayed by an un- 
necessary trip to Balaclava and back again. There were 
occasions in which vessels containing hospital stores, as well 
as munitions of war, made three voyages to and fro before 
the former were landed at Scutari. Sometimes when Miss 
Nightingale happened to hear of an incoming vessel betimes, 
she was able, by special petition to the military authorities, 
to intercept hospital stores ; but she saw (what no one else 
seems to have done) that the whole system was at fault. 
" It is absolutely necessary," she wrote, " that there should 
be a Government Store House, in the shape of a hulk, where 
stores for the British, from whatever ships, could be received 
at once from them, and be delivered on the ship-store- 
keeper's receipt. There are no store-houses to be had by the 
water's-edge, and porterage is very expensive and slow." 
In March 1855 Miss Nightingale's solution was adopted.^ 

As Purveyor, Miss Nightingale was directly concerned 
only with the sick and wounded ; but the condition in 
which the men arrived at Scutari enabled her to learn 
the state of things at the front, and she urged upon Mr. 
Herbert the necessity of sending out warm clothing to the 
army in the Crimea. " The state of the troops who return 
here, particularly those 500 who were admitted on the 19th, 
is frost-bitten, demi-nude, starved, ragged. If the troops 
who work in the trenches are not supplied with warm 
clothing. Napoleon's Russian campaign will be repeated 
here." The terrible experiences of the British army before 
Sebastopol during the winter of 1854-55 were some fulfil- 
ment of her prediction. When opportunity offered she 
similarly sent suggestions to Lord Panmure ; then, in reply 
to a letter of kind inquiries from him about her health 
(Aug. 1855), she called attention to the disproportionate 
number of patients which came from the' Artillery, and 
threw out hints for economizing the men's labour.^ On a 
matter of the soldiers' pay, she was the means of remedying 
a hardship which had struck her at Scutari. She pressed 

^ Statement to Subscribers, pp. 9-10, and letter to Sidney Herbert, 
January 22, 1855. 

* See Panmure, vol. i. p. 356. THE CEMETERY AT SCUTARI 223 

earnestly upon Mr. Herbert that hospital stoppages against 
the daily pay of the sick soldier (gd.) should be made equal 
to the hospital stoppage against the wounded soldier (4^d.), 
provided that the sickness be incurred while on duty before 
the enemy. She made this representation in December 
1854, i^ot only to Mr. Herbert, but to the Queen. On 
February i, 1855, she heard with great satisfaction that her 
suggestion had been adopted, and that the soldiers' accounts 
were to be rectified in that sense as from the Battle of the 


The Queen had asked Miss Nightingale to make sugges- 
tions as to what Her Majesty could do "to testify her sense 
of the courage and endurance so abundantly shown by her 
sick soldiers." One of the suggestions submitted was the 
rectification just mentioned. Another suggestion was that 
a Firman should be immediately asked of the Sultan granting 
the military cemetery at Scutari to the British, and that 
Her Majesty should have it enclosed by a stone wall. " There 
are already, alas ! " wrote Miss Nightingale, " about a 
thousand lying in this cemetery. Nine hundred were 
reported last week. We have buried one hundred in the 
last two days only. The spot is beautiful, overlooking the 
Sea of Marmora, and occupies the space between the General 
Hospital wall and the edge of the sea-cliff." The suggestion 
must have gone straight to the Queen's heart, for Miss 
Nightingale was informed that Her Majesty had written 
on the subject both to Lord Clarendon, the Secretary of 
State for Foreign Affairs, and to the British Ambassador 
to the Porte. The Firman was obtained in due course, and 
the well-kept British enclosure attracts the attention of 
travellers to this day by contrast with the Oriental burial- 
places. It was again at Miss Nightingale's suggestion that 
a memorial obelisk, far seen in lonely splendour, was erected 
" by Queen Victoria and her people." ^ 

But I must not linger further over points of detail. Miss 
Nightingale's eye for detail did not prevent her from taking 

^ In 1865 Miss Nightingale, after an energetic correspondence with the 
War Office, secured payment, long before promised, to an English custode. 


comprehensive views, and from time to time she sent to 
Mr. Herbert schemes of reorganization. In the following 
letter, of January 8, 1855, she exposed the extent and nature 
of the evil in the hospitals, and the kind of reform which 
was needed to remedy them : — 

As the larger proportion of the army (in which we are told 
that there are not two thousand sound men) is coming into 
hospital — as there are therefore thousands of lives at stake — as, 
in a service where the future of the official servants is dependent 
upon the personal interest of one man, these cannot be expected 
to peril that future by getting themselves shelved as innovators. 

I feel that this is no time for compliments or false shame ; 
and that you will never hear the whole truth, troublesome as it is, 
except from one independent of promotion. . . . 

I subjoin a rough estimate of what has been given out by me 
during one month — the whole at the " requisition " of the Medical 
Men — all of which I have by me (merely in order to substantiate 
the facts of the destitution of these hospitals). 

Since the 17th December, we have received 3400 sick, and I 
have made no sum total as yet of what has been done for these 
new-comers by us — excepting for one corridor, which I enclose. 

(i) Thus the Purveying is nil — that is the whole truth, 
beyond bedding, bread, meat, cold water, fuel. 

Beyond the boiling en masse in the great coppers of the 
general kitchen the meat is not cooked, the water is not boiled 
except what is done in my subsidiary kitchens. My schedule 
will show what I have purveyed. 

I have refused to go on purveying for the third Hospital, 
the Sultan's Serail i— the demands upon me there having been 
begun with twelve hundred articles, including shirts, the first 
night of our occupying it. I refer you to a List of what was not 
in store, and to a copy of one requisition upon me sent last 

(2) The extraordinary circumstance of a whole army having 
been ordered to abandon its kits, as was done when we landed 
our men before Alma, has been overlooked entirely in all our 
system. The fact is, that I am now clothing the British Army. 
The sick were re-embarked at Balaclava for these Hospitals, 
without resuming their kits, also half-naked besides. And when 
discharged from here, they carry off, small blame to them, even 
my knives and forks — shirts, of course, and Hospital clothing 
also. The men who were sent to Abydos as convalescents 
were sent in their Hospital dresses, or they must have gone naked. 

^ This is the " Palace Hospital." See above, p. 174. DEFECTS IN THE HOSPITAL STAFF 225 

The consequence is that not one single Hospital dress is now left 
in store, and I have substituted Turkish dressing-gowns from 
Stamboul (three bales in the passage are marked Hospital Gowns, 
but have not yet been " sat upon "). To purvey this Hospital 
is like pouring water into a sieve ; and will be, till regimental 
stores have been sent out from England enough to clothe the 
naked and refill the kit. 

I have requisitions for Uniform trousers, for each and all of 
the articles of a kit, sent in to me. 

We have not yet heard of boots being sent out ; the men 
come into Hospital half-shod. 

In a time of such calamity, unparalleled in the liistory, I 
believe, of calamity, I have a little compassion left even for the 
wretched Purveyor, swamped amid demands he never expected. 
But I have no compassion for the men who would rather see 
hundreds of hves lost than waive one scruple of the official 

(3) The Hospital and Army Stores come out in the same 
vessels — and up go our stores to Balaclava, and down they never 
come again, or have not yet. 

(4) The total inefficiency of the Hospital Orderly System 
as now is. The French have a permanent system of Orderhes, 
trained for the purpose, who do not re-enter the ranks. It is 
too late for us to organize this. But if the convalescents, being 
good Orderlies, were not sent away to the Crimea as soon as they 
have learnt their work — if the Commander-in-Chief would call 
upon the Commanding Officer of each Regiment to select ten men 
from each as Hospital Orderhes to form a depot here (not young 
soldiers, but men of good character), this would give some hope 
of organizing an efficient corps. Above all, that the class of 
Ward-Master I shall mention should be sent out from England. 

We require : — 

(i) An effective staff of Purveyors out from England — 
but beyond this, 

(2) A head, some one with authority to mash up the depart- 
ments into uniform and rapid action. He may as well stay at 
home unless he have power to modify the arrangements of 
departments made expressly by Sir C. Trevelyan with Mr. Wreford 
before he came away in May. 

(3) We want Medical Officers. 

(4) Three Deputy Inspectors-General (whereas we have only 
one). ... It is obvious from what has been said in former 
letters who, if there are two Deputy Inspector-Generals made to 
these Hospitals, should be made Deputy Inspector-General of 
this Barrack Hospital, past and present efficiency being con- 



(5) We want discharged Non-Commissioned Officers, not 
past the meridian of hfe — not the Ambulance Corps, who all died 
of delirium tremens or cholera — but the class of men employed 
as Ward-Masters of Military Prisons, or as Barrack Sergeants, or 
Hospital Sergeants of the Guards who can be highly recommended. 

We want these men as Ward- Masters and Assistant Ward- 
Masters as Stewards. They must be under the orders of the 
Senior Medical Officer, removable by him ; they must be well 
paid so as to make it worth their while, — say 5s. per day, ist class, 
2s. 6d. per day 2nd class — for they must be superior men, not 
the rabble we have now. {N.B. — There are three Ward-Masters 
to each division of this Hospital — of which there are three — 
containing 800 and odd sick in each.) 

The book of Hospital regulations, admirable in time of peace, 
contains nothing for a time of war, much less a time of war like 
this, unexampled for calamity. 

The Hospital Sergeants are, of course, up in the Crimea with 
their regiments, — and we have nothing but such raw Corporals 
and Sergeants as can be spared, new to their work, to place in 
charge of the divisions and wards. And these Lord Raglan 
complains of our keeping. We must have Hospital Sergeants 
if there is to be the remotest hope of efficiency among the Orderhes 

(6) The Orderhes ought to be well paid, well fed, well housed. 
They are now overworked, ill fed, and underpaid. The sickness 
and mortality among them is extraordinary — ten took sick in one 
Division to-night. . . . 

I had written a plan for the systematic organization of these 
Hospitals upon a principle of centrahzation, under which the 
component parts might be worked in unison. But, on re- 
consideration, deeming so great a change impracticable during 
the present heavy pressure of calamities here, I refrain from 
forwarding it, and substitute a sketch of a plan, by which great 
improvement might be made from within, without abandoning 
the forms under which the service is carried on. . . . 

This further scheme may, however, be given more 
shortly from a later letter (Jan. 28) : — 

As the Purveying seems likely to come to an end of itself, 
perhaps I shall not be guilty of the murder of the Innocents if I 
venture to suggest what may take the place of the venerable 
Wreford. Cornelius Agrippa had a broom-stick which used to 
fetch water for his use. When the broom-stick was cut in two 
by the axe of an unwary student, each end of the severed broom, 
catching up a pitcher, began fetching water with all its might. 
Were the Purveyor here cut in three, we might conceive some A REORGANIZATION SCHEME 227 

hope of having not only water, but food also, and clothing fetched 
us. Let there be three distinct offices instead of one indistinct 
one : — 

(i) To provide us with food. 

(2) With Hospital furniture and clothing. 

(3) To keep the daily routine going. 

These are now the three offices of the unfortunate Purveyor ; 
and none of them are performed. 

But the Purveyor is supposed to be only the channel through 
which the Commissariat stores pass. Theoretically, but not prac- 
tically, it is so. (For practically Wreford gets nothing through 
the Commissary, but employs a contractor.) 

Now, why should not the Commissariat purvey the Hospital 
with food ? perform the whole of Purveyor's office, No. i ? 
The practice of drawing raw rations, as here seen, seems invented 
on purpose to waste the time of as many Orderlies as possible, 
who stand at the Purveyor's office from 4 to 9 a.m. drawing the 
patients' breakfast, from 10 to 12, drawing their dinner — and 
to make the patients' meals as late as possible — because it is 
impossible to get the diets, thus drawn, cooked before 3 or 4 
o'clock. The scene of confusion, delay, and disappointment 
where all these raw diets are being weighed out by twos, and 
threes, and fours, is impossible to conceive, unless one has seen it, 
as I have, day after day. And one must have been, as I have, 
at all hours of the day and night in this Hospital to conceive 
the abuses of this want of system — raw meat, drawn too late to 
be cooked, standing all night in the wards, etc., etc., etc. Why 
should not the Commissariat send at once the amount of beef and 
mutton, etc., etc., required into the kitchens, without passing 
through this intermediate stage of drawing by Orderlies ? 

Let a Commissariat Officer reside here — let the Ward-Masters 
make a total from the Diet Rolls of the Medical Men — so many 
hundred full diets — so many hundred half -diets — so many hundred 
spoon diets, and give it over to the Commissariat Officer the day 
before. The next day the whole quantity, the total of all the 
Ward-Masters' totals, is given into the kitchens direct. 

It should be all carved in the kitchens on hot plates, and at 
meal-times the Orderhes come to fetch it for the patients — carry 
it through the wards, where an Officer tells it off to every bed, 
according to the Bed-ticket, on which he reads the Diet, hung up 
at every bed. The time and confusion thus saved would be 
incalculable. Punctuality is now impossible ; the food is half- 
raw, and often many hours after time. Some of the portions are 
all bone, whereas the meat should be boned in the kitchen, 
according to the plan now proposed, and the portions there 
carved contain meat only. Pray consider this. 


There might be, besides, an Extra Diet Kitchen to each 
division ; a teapot, issue of tea, sugar, etc., to every mess, for 
which stores make the Ward-Master responsible ; arrow-root, 
beef -tea, etc., to be issued from the Extra Diet Kitchens. 

But into these details it is needless to enter to you. 

(2) The second office of the Purveyor now is to furnish, iipon 
requisition, the Hospital with utensils and clothing. But let 
the Hospital be furnished at once, as has been already described 
in former letters. If 2000 beds exist, let these 2000 beds have 
their appropriate complement of furniture and clothing, station- 
ary and fixed. Whether these be originally provided by a 
Commissary or a storekeeper, let those who are competent decide. 
The French appear to give as much too much power to their 
Commissariat, who are the real chiefs of their Hospitals, while the 
Medical Men are only their slaves, as we give too httle. But the 
Hospital being once furnished, and a store-keeper appointed to 
each division to supply wear and tear, let the Ward-Masters be 
responsible. Let an inventory hang on the door of each ward 
of what ought to be found there. Let the Ward-Masters give up 
the dirty linen every night and receive the same quantity in clean 
linen every morning. Let the Patient shed liis Hospital clothing 
like a snake when he goes out of Hospital, be inspected by the 
Quarter-Master, and receive, if necessary, from Quarter-Master's 
store what is requisite for his becoming a soldier again. While 
the next patient succeeds to his bed and its furniture. 

(3) The daily routine of the Hospital. This is now performed, 
or rather not performed by the Purveyor. I am really cook, 
housekeeper, scavenger (I go about making the Orderlies empty 
huge tubs), washer- woman, general dealer, store-keeper. The 
Purveyor is supposed to do all this, but it is physically impossible. 
And the filth, and the disorder, and the neglect, let those describe 
who saw it when we first came. . . . 

Let us have a Hotel-keeper, a House-steward, who shall take 
the daily routine in charge — the cooking, washing and cleaning 
us — the superintending the housekeeping, in short, be re- 
sponsible for the cleanliness of the wards, now done by one 
Medical Officer, Dr. M'Grigor, by me, or by no one — inspect the 
kitchens, the wash-houses, be what a housekeeper ought to be 
in a private Asylum. 

With the French the chef d' administration, the Commissary, 
as we should call him, is the master of the Orderhes. And the 
Medical Men just come in and prescribe, as London physicians do, 
and go away again. With us the Medical Officers are everything, 
and have to do ever5^hing, however heterogeneous. The French 
system is bad, because, though there may be twenty things down 
on the Carte for the Medical Man to choose his patient's diet 


from, nominally, the Chef d'Administration may have provided 
only two, and the Patient has no redress. 

Whether, in any new plan, the House Stewards have the 
command of the OrderHes, or the Medical Man, which I am 
incompetent to determine, whichever it be let us have a Governor 
of the Hospital. As it is a Military Hospital, a Military Head is 
probably necessary as Governor. 

On September 20, 1855, a Royal Warrant was issued, 
reorganizing the Medical Staff Corps, " for the better care 
of the sick and wounded," revising the duties of the several 
officers, and improving their pay. Any one who cares to 
refer to this Warrant, and to compare it with Miss Nightin- 
gale's letters just given, will see that in large measure her 
suggestions were adopted by the War Department. 

Miss Nightingale was careful, as we have seen, not to 
interfere with the doctors, and, though she thought that as 
administrators some of them were ineffective, she bore 
willing testimony to their skill and devotion (with some 
few exceptions) in their proper work. But she could not 
abstain from deploring one great omission, and she offered 
to subscribe largely towards repairing it : — 

" One thing which we much require," she wrote to Mr. Herbert 
(Feb. 22, 1855), "might easily be done. This is the formation 
of a Medical School at Scutari. We have lost the finest oppor- 
tunity for advancing the cause of Medicine and erecting it into 
a Science which will probably ever be afforded. There is here 
no operating room, no dissecting room ; post-mortem examina- 
tions are seldom made, and then in the dead-house (the ablest 
Staff Surgeon here told me that he considered that he had killed 
hundreds of men owing to the absence of these) no statistics are 
kept as to between what ages most deaths occur, as to modes of 
treatment, appearances of the body after death, etc., etc., etc., 
and all the innumerable and most important points which con- 
tribute to making Therapeutics a means of saving life, and not, 
as it is here, a formal duty. Our registration generally is so 
lamentably defective that often the only record kept is — a man 
died on such a day. There is a kiosk on the Esplanade before 
the Barrack Hospital, rejected by the Quarter-Master for his 
stores, which I have asked for and obtained as a School of 
Medicine. It is not used now for any purpose — £300 or ;£400 
(which I would wilhngly give) would put it in a state of repair. 
It is not overlooked and is in every way calculated for the purpose 
I have named. The Medical teaching duties could not be carried 


on efficiently with a less staff than two lecturers on Physiology 
and Pathology, and one lecturer on Anatomy, who will be em- 
ployed in preparing the subject for demonstration, and performing 
operations for the information of the Juniors." 

This suggestion also was in part adopted. An excellent 
dissecting-room was built, provided with numerous instru- 
ments, microscopes and other apparatus.^ 


And so this woman of ideas went on, week by week, 
month by month, pouring in requisitions, hints, plans, to 
the Government at home ; sometimes getting things done 
as she wanted, at others making suggestions which, had they 
been adopted, would still more have conduced to efficiency. 
Something of that calm and clear sagacity, which impressed 
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert when they made her 
personal acquaintance,^ was reflected in her appearance and 
demeanour as observed by eye-witnesses at Scutari. " In 
appearance," wrote Mr. Osborne, " Miss Nightingale is 
just what you would expect in any other well-bred woman, 
who may have seen perhaps rather more than thirty years of 
life ; her manner and countenance are prepossessing, and 
this without the possession of positive beauty ; it is a face 
not easily forgotten, pleasing in its smile, with an eye be- 
tokening great self-possession, and giving, when she wishes, 
a quiet look of firm determination to every feature. Her 
general demeanour is quiet and rather reserved ; still, I 
am much mistaken if she is not gifted with a very lively sense 
of the ridiculous. In conversation, she speaks on matters 
of business with a grave earnestness one would not expect 
from her appearance. She has evidently a mind disciplined 
to restrain under the principles of the action of the moment 
every feeling which would interfere with it. She has trained 
herself to command, and learned the value of conciliation 
towards others and constraint over herself. I can conceive 
her to be a strict disciplinarian ; she throws herself into a 
work as its head. As such she knows well how much 

^ See Pincojfs, p. 55. 
^ See the words cited at the head of this chapter, and below, pp. 324, 325. THE PERSON TO GET THINGS DONE 231 

success must depend upon literal obedience to her every 
order." ^ 

It was soon perceived at Scutari that Miss Nightingale 
Vv'as a power. She mentioned incidentally at a later period 
a curious fact, which shows the way in which officers ap- 
pealed to her as a kind of emergency-man. In 1862 she 
was pressing the War Office to separate the function of 
Banker from that of Purveyor, and she illustrated the con- 
fusion caused by the amalgamation from her own experience. 
Among the instances was this : " I had at Scutari thousands 
of sovereigns at a time in my bedroom, entrusted to me by 
officers who preferred making me their banker because of 
the perpetual discord. ' Offend the Commissary or Pur- 
veyor, and you won't be able to get your money.' " ^ It 
was soon perceived also that Miss Nightingale was the person 
who, if any one, could get things done, and any official who 
had an idea took it to her. In the letters to Sidney Herbert 
she sometimes bids him know that what she says does not 
merely come from " poor me," but represents the views " of 
all the best men here." But she, I think, was the best man 
of them all.^ Such was the opinion, at any rate, of a man 
among men, the redoubtable Sydney Godolphin Osborne. 
" Every day," he wrote in describing his experience at 
Scutari, " brought some new complication of misery to be 
somehow unravelled. Every day had its peculiar trial to 
one who had taken such a load of responsibility, in an untried 
field, and with a staff of her own sex, all new to it. Hers 
was a post requiring the courage of a Cardigan, the tact and 
diplomacy of a Palmerston, the endurance of a Howard, 
the cheerful philanthropy of a Mrs. Fry. Miss Nightingale 
fills that post ; and, in my opinion, is the one individual 
who in this whole unhappy war has shown more than any 
other what real energy guided by good sense can do to 
meet the calls of sudden emergency." * And hence it was, 
too, that any official who felt the urgency of some 

^ Scutari and its Hospitals, p. 25. 

* Letter to Captain Galton, June 28, 1862. On the general question, 
see vol. ii. p. 64. 

^ It was a mot of Mr. Stafford's that he had only met two men in the 
East, Omar Pacha (the Turkish Commander) and Florence Nightingale. 

* Scutari and its Hospitals, p. 27. 


particular need in his own department carried his case 
to the Lady-in-Chief. Did a surgeon want some point 
represented with special urgency to the authorities at 
home ? He went to Miss Nightingale. Did a pur- 
veyor want some special authority from the military to 
facilitate his task ? He went to Miss Nightingale. The 
centre of initiative at Scutari was in the Sisters' Tower ; 
and going to Miss Nightingale had something of the magic 
that in earlier days was found in " going to Mr, Pitt." ^ 

^ See Kivglake, vol. vi. pp. 43, 436. 



Then in such hour of need . . • 

Ye, hke angels, appear. 

Radiant with ardour divine ! . . . 

Order, courage, return . . . 

Ye move through the ranks, recall 

The stragglers, refresh the outworn, 

Praise, reinspire the brave ! 

Eyes rekindling, and prayers. 

Follow your steps as ye go. 

Matthew Arnold. 

In the preceding chapters we have seen at work the impel- 
ling power of a brain and a will ; but, with these, Florence 
Nightingale brought to her mission the tenderness of a 
woman's heart. She was the matron of a hospital no less 
than the mistress of a barrack. She was a resolute admini- 
strator ; but also, as was said at the time in a hundred 
speeches, letters, articles : 

When pain and anguish wring the brow, 
A ministering angel thou. 

Upon those behind the scenes, upon ministers and officials, 
it was the former side of her activity that made the pro- 
founder impression. Some of them applauded what she 
did, recognizing that only the advent of a new force could 
have driven a way through the quagmire ; others complained 
that in her methods there was something too imperious and 
masterful ; all alike perceived her power and strength of will. 
But to the sick and wounded among whom she lived and 
moved, and to the great public at home which heard of her 
work, it was the softer side of her character that made the 



more instant appeal. By them she was known and honoured 
not as the rigid disciphnarian or creative organizer, but as 
the compassionate and tender nurse. Those who had no 
means of knowing what other work she had to do supposed 
that ministration to the sick, in the narrower sense, com- 
prised it all. But, in fact, as she wrote to Mr. Herbert 
(Jan. 14, 1855), nursing was " the least important of the 
functions into which she had been forced " ; and those on the 
spot, who watched the arduousness of these other duties, 
wished that she could be persuaded to spare herself more of 
one kind of work or of the other. The marvel is that in 
unstinted measure she combined them both. 

Her devotion and her power of work were prodigious. 
" I work in the wards all day," she said, " and write all 
night " ; and this was hardly exaggeration. A letter 
from Miss Stanley (Dec. 21, 1854) gives an interesting 
glimpse of Florence Nightingale at work in the Barrack 
Hospital : — 

We turned up the stone stairs ; on the second floor we came 
to the corridors of sick, on low wooden stands, raised about a 
foot from the floor, placed about 2 feet apart, and leaving 2 or 
3 feet down the middle, along which we walked. The atmosphere 
worsened as we advanced. We passed down two or three of 
these immense corridors, asking our way as we went. At last we 
came to the guard-room, another corridor, then through a door 
into a large busy kitchen, where stood Mrs. Margaret Williams, 
who seemed much pleased to see me : then a heavy curtain was 
raised ^ ; I went through a door, and there sat dear Flo writing 
on a small unpainted deal table. I never saw her looking better. 
She had on her black merino, trimmed with black velvet, clean 
linen collar and cuffs, apron, white cap with a black handkerchief 
tied over it ; and there was Mrs. Bracebridge, looking so nice 
too. I was quite satisfied with my welcome. ... A stream of 
people every minute. " Please, ma'am, have you any black- 
edged paper ? " " Please, what can I give which would keep on 
his stomach ; is there any arrowroot to-day for him ? " " No ; 
the tubs of arrowroot must be for the worst cases ; we cannot 
spare him any, nor is there any jelly to-day ; try him with some 
eggs." " Please, Mr. Gordon [the Chief Engineer] wishes to see 

^ Miss Nightingale's camp bedstead was at this time behind a screen 
in the kitchen, for she had given up her room to the widow of an officer. 


Miss Nightingale about the orders she gave him." Mr. Sabin 
comes in for something else. Mr. Bracebridge in and out about 
General Adams/ and orders of various kinds.^ 

The occasion described by Miss Stanley was post-day. 
Still busier were the awful days on which fresh consignments 
of sick and wounded arrived from the Crimea. Miss Nightin- 
gale has been known, said General Bentinck, to pass eight 
hours on her knees dressing wounds and administering 
comfort. There were times when she stood for twenty 
hours at a stretch, apportioning quarters, distributing 
stores, directing the labours of her staff, or assisting at the 
painful operations where her presence might soothe or 
support. She had, said Mr. Osborne, " an utter dis- 
regard of contagion. I have known her spend hours over 
men dying of cholera or fever. The more awful to every 
sense, any particular case, especially if it was that of a dying 
man, the more certainly might her slight form be seen bend- 
ing over him, administering to his ease by every means in 
her power, and seldom quitting his side till death released 
him." ^ " We cannot," wrote Mr. Bracebridge to her uncle, 
Mr. Smith (Dec. 18, 1854), " prevent her self-sacrifice for 
the dying. She cannot delegate as we could wish ; but 
the cases are so interesting and painful ; who could leave 
them when once taken up ? — boys and brave men dying 
who can be saved by nursing and proper diet." It is 
recorded that on one occasion she saw five soldiers set 
aside as hopeless cases. The first duty of the overworked 
surgeons was with those whom there seemed to be more hope 
of saving. She asked to be given the care of the five men, 
and the surgeons consented. Assisted by one of her nurses, 
she tended the cases throughout the night, administering 
nourishment from her stores, and in the morning they were 
found to be in a fit condition for surgical treatment.^ 
" Miss Nightingale," said a Chelsea pensioner, in recalling 
his experiences at Scutari, " was always coming in and out. 
She used to attend to all the worst cases herself. Some of 
the new men were a bit shy at first, but many a time I've 

^ He had died in hospital from his wounds, and his body was to be 
sent to England. - Stanmore, vol. i. p. 373. 

^ Scutari and its Hospitals, p. 26. * Daily News, June 2, 1855. 

236 A " MINISTERING ANGEL " pt. n 

heard her say, ' Never be ashamed of your wounds, my 
friend.' " ^ " 1 beheve," wrote a CiviUan doctor who saw her 
at work, " that there was never a severe case of any kind that 
escaped her notice, and sometimes it was wonderful to see her 
at the bedside of a patient who had been admitted perhaps 
but an hour before, and of whose arrival one would hardly 
have supposed it possible she could be already cognisant." ^ 
Sometimes when exhausted nature could not be denied 
repose, she would depute the last sad office to another lady. 
" Selina [Mrs. Bracebridge] is sitting up with a dying man. 
Florence at last asleep, i a.m." Her days were always long ; 
for she deemed it well not to allow any of her nurses to be in 
the wards after eight at night. And often, when all else was 
quiet, and she had been sitting up to finish her heavy corre- 
spondence, she would make a final tour of the wards. A 
lady volunteer, who two days after her arrival was sent for to 
accompany Miss Nightingale on such a tour, recalled the 
scene. " We went round the whole of the second story, into 
many of the wards and into one of the upper corridors. It 
seemed an endless walk, and it was one not easily forgotten. 
As we slowly passed along, the silence was profound ; very 
seldom did a moan or cry from those deeply suffering ones 
fall on our ears. A dim light burned here and there. Miss 
Nightingale carried her lantern, which she would set down 
before she bent over any of the patients. I much admired 
her manner to the men— it was so tender and kind." ^ The 
description of these midnight vigils, given by Mr. Macdonald, 
the commissioner of the Times Fund, became famous, by 
adaptation, throughout the world : — 

Wherever there is disease in its most dangerous form and 
the hand of the despoiler distressingly nigh, there is that incom- 
parable woman sure to be seen. Her benignant presence is an 
influence for good comfort, even amid the struggles of expiring 
nature. She is a " ministering angel " without any exaggeration 
in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along 
each corridor, every poor fellow's face softens with gratitude 
at the sight of her. When aU the medical of&cers have retired 

1 Wintle, p. 113. 

- Pincoffs, p. 78, where a particular case in point is recorded. 

* Eastern Hospitals, vol. i. pp. 69-70. 


for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon 
those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with 
a little lamp in her hand.^ making her soUtary rounds. 

Famous, too, became the words which one poor fellow 
sent home. " What a comfort it was to see her pass even. 
She would speak to one and nod and smile to as many 
more ; but she could not do it to all, you know. We lay 
there by hundreds ; but we could kiss her shadow as it 
fell, and lay our heads on the pillow again, content." 
" Before she came," said another soldier's letter, " there 
was cussin' and swearin', but after that it was holy as a 
church." Mr. Sidney Herbert read out these letters at a 
public meeting in November 1855.^ Lord Ellesmere used 
Mr. Macdonald's description in the House of Lords in May 
1856.^ And Longfellow, in the following year, made a 
poem of it all, one of the most widely known poems, I 
suppose, that have ever been written : — 

Lo ! in that hour of misery 
A lady with a lamp I see 

Pass through the glimmering gloom. 

And flit from room to room. 
And slow, as in a dream of bliss, 
The speechless sufferer turns to kiss 

Her shadow, as it falls 

Upon the darkening walls. 

The men idolized her. They kissed her shadow, and they 
saluted her as she passed down their wounded ranks. " If 
the Queen came for to die," said a soldier who lost a leg at 
the Alma, " they ought to make her queen, and I think they 
would." Her lively sense of humour, which Mr. Osborne 
had discerned in talks with her in the hospital, was appreci- 
ated also by the patients. " She was wonderful," said one, 
" at cheering up any one who was a bit low," " She was all 
full of life and fun," said another, " when she talked to us, 
especially if a man was a bit down-hearted." * Who can 
tell what comfort was brought by the sound of a woman's 
gentle voice, the touch of a woman's gentle hand, to many 

^ The lamp of famous memory was a camp lamp, and was taken 
possession of by Mrs. Bracebridge. 

* Below, p. 270. ^ Below, p. 303. * Wintle, pp. 106, 108. 


a poor fellow racked by fever, or smarting from sores ? And 
who can say how often her presence may have been as " a 
cup of strength in some great agony " ? " The magic of 
her power over men was felt," as Kinglake has described, 
" in the room — the dreaded, the blood-stained room — where 
operations took place. There perhaps the maimed soldier, 
if not yet resigned to his fate, might at first be craving 
death rather than meet the knife of the surgeon ; but, 
when such a one looked and saw that the honoured Lady- 
in-Chief was patiently standing beside him, and — with 
lips closely set and hands folded — decreeing herself to go 
through the pain of witnessing pain, he used to fall into the 
mood for obeying her silent command, and — finding strange 
support in her presence — bring himself to submit and en- 
dure." ^ And when the hour of death came, how often must 
the passing have been soothed by a presence which, with 
words of womanly comfort, may have carried the soldier's 
last thoughts back to home and wife, or child ? A member 
of Parliament, well known in London Society, Mr. Augustus 
Stafford, went out during the recess of 1854 to Scutari, and 
made himself very useful to Miss Nightingale. " He says," 
wrote Monckton Milnes (Jan. 1855), " that Florence in the 
Hospital makes intelligible to him the Saints of the Middle 
Ages. If the soldiers were told that the roof had opened, 
and she had gone up palpably to Heaven, they would not be 
the least surprised. They quite believe she is in several 
places at once." ^ They were impressed by her power, no 
less than they were touched by her tenderness, and ascribed 
to the Lady-in-Chief the gifts of leadership in the field. 
" If she were at their head, they would be in Sebastopol in a 
week ; " was a saying often heard in the hospital wards. 


Of all the documents that have passed under my eyes 
in writing this memoir, none have touched me more than a 
bundle of letters to and from friends and relatives of Crimean 
soldiers. Miss Nightingale was careful to take note of any 

^ Invasion of the Crimea, vol. vi. p. 425. 
2 Life of Lord Houghton, vol. i. p. 505. 


dying man's last wishes or messages, and the letters in which 
she forwarded these, to wife or mother, must, by their touch 
of womanly sympathy, have brought balm to many a 
stricken heart. " My dear Miss," writes one mother, " I 
feel the loss of my poor son's death very keenly, but if 
anything could help my grief it is the thought that he was 
looked to and cared for by kind friends when so many miles 
away from his native land." " I beg," writes a sister, " to 
return you my grateful thanks for all your kindness to my 
poor dear brother and for writing to tell me of his death. 
It is great consolation to know that both his soul and body 
were so kindly cared for." " I can assure you," writes 
another, " that you are beloved by every poor soldier I 
have seen." Correspondence of this kind continued in the 
same manner when Miss Nightingale passed on from Scutari 
to the Crimea. One letter to a bereaved mother may be 
given as a representative of many : — 

"... The first time I saw your son was in going round the 
wards in the General Hospital at Balaklava. He had been 
brought in, in the morning. ... He was always conscious, and 
remained so till the very last. He prayed aloud so beautifully 
that, as the Nurse in charge said, " It was like a sermon to hear 
him." He asked " to see Miss Nightingale." He knew me, and 
expressed himself to me as entirely resigned to die. He pressed 
my hand when he could not speak. He died in the night. . . . 
He was decently interred in a burial-ground we have about a mile 
from Balaklava. One of my own Sisters lies in the same ground, 
to whom I have erected a monument. Should you wish anything 
similar to be done over the grave of your lost son, I will endeavour 
to gratify you, if you will inform me of your wishes. With true 
sympathy for your loss, I remain, dear Madam, yours sincerely, 

Flokence Nightingale. 

There is another bundle, hardly less touching, which 
contains letters of anxious inquiry addressed to Miss Nightin- 
gale from all parts of the United Kingdom, begging her to 
send, if she can, particulars of the whereabouts or of the 
illness or of the last hours of husband, brother, father, or son. 
" In order that you may know him," writes one fond mother, 
"he is a straight, nice, clean-looking, Hght-complexioned 
youth." " Died in hospital, in good frame of mind," was 
Miss Nightingale's docket for the reply. Every letter was 


carefully answered, and every message was, I doubt not, 
given whenever it was in her power to do so. Many are the 
blessings invoked on Miss Nightingale's head. Often the 
writer begins by explaining that the newspapers have told 
of her great kindness and so she will forgive the intrusion. 
Others show that they take all that for granted by beginning, 
" Dear Friend," or ending, " Yours affectionately." Many 
wives beg her to let the soldier know that the children are 
well and happy. And one letter sends a message to a 
wounded Lancer from the girl he left behind him, " If alive, 
please mention my name to him." 


The strain upon Miss Nightingale's physical and mental 
powers was incessant. Her health, as it proved in the end, 
was seriously impaired ; but during all her work at Scutari, 
she was never absent from her post. " You had the best 
opportunities," she was asked by the Royal Commission of 
1857, " for observing the condition of the soldier when he 
entered the hospitals, while he resided in them, when he died 
and was sent to the cemeteries, when he was sent home as 
an invalid, and when he rejoined the army ? " " Yes," she 
answered ; "I was never out of the hospitals." During the 
worst time of cholera and typhus, three of her nurses died, 
and seven of the army doctors. Miss Nightingale tended 
two of the doctors in their last moments, and the thinning, 
for a while, of the medical ranks increased her labours. 
The amount of clerical work which devolved on her 
was, it may be well imagined, enormous. Lady Alicia 
Blackwood records that when she was starting a school in 
the women's and children's quarters at Scutari, Miss Nightin- 
gale said laughingly, " Oh, are you really going to do that 
unkind thing — to teach children to write ? I am so tired of 
writing, I sometimes wish I could not write ! " The laugh 
must have had a certain grimness in it, I fear. The extent of 
the correspondence which Miss Nightingale kept up with 
Ministers at home, with military and medical officers at the 
seat of war and at Scutari, may be gathered from the fore- 
going chapters. Her superintendence of the nurses entailed 


in account-keeping and in letters to complainants among 
them, and to their relatives, another mass of correspondence. 
Then I find next, amongst her papers, piles of store-keeping 
accounts (mostly in her own handwriting), and other bundles 
of correspondence referring to offers of help in money or in 
kind. That Miss Nightingale ultimately broke down under 
the strain was natural ; the marvel is that she bore up against 
it so long. She could not have coped with the mass of detail 
involved in her multifarious labours without a good deal 
of help. To Mr. Macdonald's assistance I have already 
referred ; and like assistance was rendered for a time by the 
Rev. and Hon. Sydney Godolphin Osborne, the famous S.G.O. 
of letters to the Times. Mr. Kinglake devotes a charming 
page to " the enthusiastic young fellow who, abandoning his 
life of ease, pleasure, and luxury, went out, as he probably 
phrased it, to ' fag ' for the Lady-in-Chief." The reference 
is probably to Mr. Percy, mentioned in a previous chapter, 
or possibly to Mr. William Shore, a distant relative of Miss 
Nightingale's father ; he was put in charge of a soldiers' 
library. But it was Miss Nightingale's old friends, Mr. 
and Mrs. Bracebridge, who rendered the longest and the 
most helpful aid. Mrs. Bracebridge shared alike her 
room and her labours, and with Mr. Bracebridge cared, 
as we have heard, for the soldiers' wives. But Mr. 
Bracebridge did much else. His knowledge of the East, and 
his persevering good humour, determined to help everybody 
about everything, were invaluable. Faithful, cheery, and 
indefatigable, no less now among the arduous labours of 
Scutari than in former days of sight-seeing at Rome and in 
Egypt, he fetched and carried for Miss Nightingale, wrote 
letters or orders for her, and kept minutes of her interviews ; 
and, at times of less strain, relieved her of visitors or callers 
by taking them for excursions in the Straits or to Con- 


Miss Nightingale's thoughtfulness devised many practical 
ways of helping the men who were not too ill to think 
of their worldly affairs. In order to encourage them as 



much as possible to occupy themselves and to keep up a 
communication with home, she supplied stationery and 
postage stamps to those in hospital. If a soldier was 
illiterate or too ill to write, she or one of her nurses, or some 
other volunteer, would write at the sick man's dictation. 
Mr. Augustus Stafford, as mentioned above, spent some 
portion of the autumn recess (Nov.-Dec. 1854) at Scutari, 
and he gave his experiences to the Roebuck Committee. He 
described the pitiable condition of the wounded on their 
arrival, " their thigh and shoulder bones perfectly red from 
rubbing against the deck " of the vessel which had brought 
them from the Crimea ; but then Miss Nightingale's nurses 
came round, " and with a precision and rapidity which you 
would scarcely believe, would bring the soldiers arrowroot 
mixed with port wine, which was the greatest comfort ; the 
men expressed themselves very thankfully, and said that 
they felt themselves in heaven." But it was in writing 
letters for the soldiers that this " cherished, yet unspoilt, 
favourite of English society " ^ spent most of his time at 
Scutari. Of Miss Nightingale's reading-rooms some account 
will be found in another chapter (XL). 

She was much touched by the men's appreciation of 
these attentions, and she was no less impressed by the 
conduct of the orderlies in the hospitals. In describing to 
the Secretary of State certain sanitary reforms which she 
carried out in the hospitals of Scutari, she wrote : "I must 
pay my tribute to the instinctive delicacy, the ready atten- 
tion of orderlies and patients during all that dreadful period ; 
for my sake they performed offices of this kind (which they 
neither would for the sake of discipline, nor for that of the 
importance to their own health, which they did not know), 
and never was there one word nor one look which a gentle- 
man would not have used ; and while paying this humble 
tribute to humble courtesy, the tears come into my eyes as 
I think how, amidst scenes of loathsome disease and death, 
there rose above it all the innate dignity, gentleness, and 
chivalry of the men (for never, surely, was chivalry so 
strikingly exemplified), shining in the midst of what must 
be considered as the lowest sinks of human misery, and 

^ Kinglake, p. 436. 


preventing instinctively the use of one expression which 
could distress a gentlewoman." ^ 

Even in the lowest sinks of human misery there are 
chords which will respond to a sympathetic touch. It was 
the innate dignity of her bearing that struck every one 
who saw Florence Nightingale ; and, amidst those scenes of 
loathsome disease and death, she was herself " the sweet 
presence of a good diffused." 

^ Notes, p. 94. 



Your sectarians of every species, small and great, Catholic or Protestant, 
of high church or low, . . . these are the true fog children. — Ruskin. 

Whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse dis- 
putings. — St. Paul. 

Every generation has its own " religious difficulty," by 
which phrase is meant, not the difficulty which the individual 
soul or the collective soul of a nation may find in its religious 
beliefs themselves, but a difficulty which intrudes itself 
into allied or alien matters from the sphere of religious 
disputation. In the present day, the religious difficulty 
with which we are most familiar concerns questions of educa- 
tion. In the days of Miss Nightingale's mission to the East 
there was a religious difficulty in questions of nursing. 

It was not enough that such a mission as hers was con- 
ceived in the very spirit of the Founder of Christianity : 
" I was sick, and ye visited me." The question was eagerly 
and angrily canvassed under which of the rival Christian 
banners the visitation of the sick soldiers should be, and 
was being, carried on. The country had at the time hardly 
recovered its mental equilibrium after the shock administered 
to it by the Tractarian movement, and echoes of the " No 
Popery " cry of 1850 were still resonant in many quarters. 
The religious difficulty appeared at the very start of Miss 
Nightingale's Crimean work, and dogged her footsteps to 
the end of it. I have dealt already with the difficulties 
which her experiment encountered from social ideas, military 
prejudices, official routine ; but I am not sure that of all 
her difficulties the religious one was not the most wearing 



and worrying, as it was also assuredly the most unnecessary 
and the least excusable. It enveloped a noble undertaking 
in a fog of envy, strife, and futile railing, 

Mr. Sidney Herbert, who was supposed to be of the High 
Church persuasion, had scented the difficulty from the first, 
as we have heard, and Miss Nightingale was keenly alive 
to it. They had desired to make the first party of nurses 
representative of all the leading sects ; but owing to the 
abstention of a Protestant institution, the Roman Catholics 
and the High Church party were in a considerable majority 
among the thirty-eight nurses. This fact gave the alarm, 
and a sectarian hue-and-cry was immediately raised. It 
began, as I am sorry to have to say, in the Daily News ; it 
was taken up, as goes without saying, in the so-called " re- 
ligious press." On October 28, 1854, when Miss Nightingale 
was on her way to Scutari, an attack upon her was given 
great prominence in the first-named paper. It was signed 
" Anti-Puseyite," and it included the text of Mr. Herbert's 
letter which had somehow or other been obtained. ^ " Miss 
Nightingale recruited her staff of nurses from Miss Sellon's 
house [a High Church one] and from a Romanist establish- 
ment." This awful fact explained " the party spirit which 
actuated the choice of Miss Nightingale for this important 
and responsible office, and which set aside Lady Maria 
Forester " — a lady, it seems, of Evangelical principles. It 
was not yet too late to remedy the offence " if the feeling 
of the nation be at once aroused and expressed." " A 
Reader of the Bible " and other correspondents followed, 
and the controversy raged furiously. Mrs. Sidney Herbert's 
intervention, with an assurance that Miss Nightingale was 
somewhat Low Church, did not stop it. S. G. O. referred 
to it in his book. " I have heard and read," he wrote, 
" with indignation the remarks hazarded upon her religious 
character. Her works ought to answer for her faith. If 
there is blame in looking for a Roman Catholic priest to 
attend a dying Romanist, let me share it with her — I did 
it again and again." ^ An admirable avowal, but not 
calculated, I fear, to allay the anger of "No Popery " 
fanatics. The publication of Queen Victoria's letter of 

^ See above, p. 154 n. ^ Scutari and its Hospitals, p. 26. 


December 6 (p. 215), showing the confidence which Her 
Majesty placed in Miss Nightingale, did something to stem 
the tide, but for many months the feud flowed on in the 


Miss Nightingale's comment, when echoes of the storm 
reached her on the Bosphorus, was characteristic. " They 
tell me," she wrote to Mr. Herbert (Jan. 28, 1855), " that 
there is a religious war about poor me in the Times, and that 
Mrs. Herbert has generously defended me. I do not know 
what I have done to be so dragged before the Public. But I 
am so glad that my God is not the God of the High Church 
or of the Low, that He is not a Romanist or an Anglican — 
or a Unitarian. I don't believe He is even a Russian, 
though His events go strangely against us. {N.B. — A 
Greek once said to me at Salamis, ' I do believe God Almighty 
is an Englishman.') " Excellent, too, was the answer given 
by an Irish clergyman when asked to what sect Miss Nightin- 
gale belonged. " She belongs to a sect which, unfortunately, 
is a very rare one — ^the sect of the Good Samaritan." Miss 
Nightingale was by descent a Unitarian, by practice a com- 
municant of the Church of England ; but she was addicted 
neither to High Church nor to Low. Her God was the God 
of Moral Law, a God of infinite pity and benevolence, but 
also One who worked out His purpose by the free will of 
human instruments. Her service of God was the service of 
Man, and her service of Man mingled efficiency with tender- 
ness. She applied only one kind of test to a nurse : Was she 
a good woman, and did she know her business ? To be a 
good woman, a religious woman, a noble woman was not in 
itself sufficient. " Excellent, gentle, self-devoted women," 
Miss Nightingale said in a note upon some of her staff, " fit 
more for Heaven than for a Hospital, they flit about like 
angels without hands among the patients, and soothe their 
souls, while they leave their bodies dirty and neglected. 
They never complain, they are eager for self-mortification. 
But I came not to mortify the nurses, but to nurse the 
wounded." Therefore if a nurse was a good woman and 
knew her business, it was nothing that she was Romanist, 


Anglican, High Church, Low Church, or Unitarian. If she 
was not a good nurse, the fact that she belonged, or did not 
belong, to this or that persuasion was no recommendation. 
Miss Nightingale was, it is true, desirous from the first to 
include Roman Catholics in her staff, and she did so, in spite 
of many difftculties, to the end. But her reasons therein 
were practical, not sectarian. In the first place, many of 
the soldiers were Roman Catholics ; and, secondly, her 
apprenticeship in nursing had shown her the excellent 
qualities, as nurses, of many Catholic Sisters. But here 
efficiency was the test, and a Protestant Deaconess from 
Kaiserswerth was all one to her with a Sister from " a 
Romanist establishment." And one practical advantage of 
vowed Sisters was that she did not lose them from marriage. 
One morning six nurses came in to Miss Nightingale, declar- 
ing that they one and all wished to be married. They were 
followed by six soldiers — sergeants and corporals — declaring 
their desire to claim the nurses as brides. This matrimonial 
deluge carried off six of her best nurses.^ 


Such, then, was Miss Nightingale's position ; and one can 
understand the amused contempt with which she heard of 
the picture drawn of her in certain quarters as a conspirator 
in a Tractarian or Romanist plot. But she was a practical 
person, and, though herself broad-minded, took stock of a 
narrower world as she found it. She was intensely desirous 
of making her experiment of woman nurses a success, and 
she felt acutely the danger of wrecking it by even the sus- 
picion of sectarian prejudice. This fact supplies a further 
explanation of the alarm with which she received the coming 
of the second party of nurses under Miss Stanley.^ It 
included a batch of fifteen nuns. " The proportion of R. 
Catholics," she wrote to Mr. Herbert, " which is already 
making an outcry, you have increased to 25 in 84. Mr. 
Menzies [the Principal Medical Officer] has declared that he 
will have two only at the General Hospital, and I cannot 
place them here [in the Barrack Hospital] in a greater 

^ Blackwood, p. 232. 2 See above, p. 192. 


proportion than I have done, without exciting the suspicion 
of the Medical Men and others." The difficulty was ulti- 
mately adjusted, but only at the cost of infinite trouble and 
worry to Miss Nightingale. Her letters to Mr. Herbert are 
full of references to the subject, some of them very amusing, 
and perhaps it was her lively sense of humour that helped 
to carry her through this religious difficulty. " Such a 
tempest," she wrote (Dec. 25, 1854), " has been brewed in 
this little pint pot as you could have no idea of. But I, 
like the Ass, have put on the Lion's skin, and when once I 
have done that (poor me, who never affronted any one 
before) , I can bray so loud that I shall be heard, I am afraid, 
as far as England. However, this is no place for lions ; 
and as for asses, we have enough." One proposition 
made to her was that, as the doctors did not want many 
more woman nurses, " ten of the Protestants should be 
appropriated as clerical females by the chaplains, and 
ten of the nuns by the priests, not as nurses, but as female 
ecclesiastics. With this of course I have nothing to do. 
It being directly at variance with my instructions, I can- 
not of course appropriate the Government money to such 
a purpose." Miss Nightingale's own proposition was to 
allocate the party in various proportions to various hospitals ; 
but the Superior of the new set of nuns objected that " it 
would be uncanonical " for any of her party to be separated 
from her. Then Miss Nightingale proposed sending some 
of the nuns, either of the first or of the second batch, back 
to England ; but Father Cuffe said that to send them away 
would be " like the driving of the Blessed Virgin through the 
desert by Herod." " I believe it may be proved as a logical 
proposition," wrote Miss Nightingale in the midst of her re- 
ligious difficulty, " that it is impossible for me to ride through 
all this ; my caique is upset, but I am sticking on the bottom 
still." Three days later she still despaired. " The fifteen 
New Nuns are leading me the devil of a life, trying to get in 
vi et armis, and will upset the coach ; there is little doubt of 
that." However, she held her ground. She had started with 
a Protestant howl at her ; she was now prepared to face " a 
Roman Catholic storm." Happily the Reverend Mother 
of the first party of nuns was on her side, and strove to 


compose the canonical difficulty. To another Reverend 
Mother, who was less peaceably minded, Miss Nightingale 
often referred in her letters as " the Reverend Brickbat," 
In any case. Miss Nightingale was resolved, as she wrote, 
" not to let our little Society become a hot-bed of Roman 
Catholic Intriguettes," Ultimately it was arranged that 
five of the second party of nuns should go to the General 
Hospital, and ten to the newly opened hospital at Koulali. 
Miss Nightingale suspected some of the second party of a 
desire to proselytize ; and presently she had to inform Mr. 
Herbert (Feb. 15, 1855) of " a charge of converting and 
rebaptizing before death, reported to me by the Senior Chap- 
lain, by him to the Commandant, by him to the Commander- 
in-Chief." She promptly exchanged the suspected nun. 

The ingenuity of theological rancour was infinite. 
Having caught wind of the fact that there was some differ- 
ence of view among the Roman Catholic Sisters, an Evan- 
gelical writer sought to fan the flame by denouncing the 
absurdity of " Catholic Nuns transferring their allegiance 
from the Pope of Rome to a Protestant Lady." One of 
the Sisters, on hearing of this diatribe, playfully addressed 
Miss Nightingale as " Your Holiness," who in turn dubbed 
the Sister " her Cardinal." ^ I hereby give notice, in case 
Crimean letters from Miss Nightingale should chance to be 
printed (such as I have seen) in which she says, "I do so 
want my Cardinal," that the expression signifies no dark and 
secret adhesion to any Prince of the Roman Church, but 
only a desire for the services of a particularly efficient 
nursing Sister. If a nurse was efficient. Miss Nightingale 
was on the friendliest terms with her, equally whether the 
nurse were Catholic or Protestant. Miss Nightingale herself 
was accused successively, and with equal absurdity in each 
case, of being prejudiced for, or against. Catholics and 
Protestants, and of being inimical to religious ministrations 
altogether. 2 The Protestant charges of proselytizing by 
Catholic nurses were of course met by counter-charges of 
attempts by Protestant nurses to convert Roman Catholic 

^ Grant, p. 165. 

^ See the Autobiography of a Balaclava Nurse (a Welshwoman), vol. ii. 
p. 146. 


patients ; and finally a chaplain solemnly appealed to the 
War Department in London to remove one of Miss Nightin- 
gale's staff on the ground that the nurse had been heard 
to avow herself a Socinian. Miss Nightingale protested 
successfully against any such disciplinary measure, urging 
that the lady, whether Socinian or not, was an excellent 
nurse. Much of all this perverse disputing was born of 
sheer ignorance and intolerance. One of Miss Stanley's 
ladies was accused by a certain chaplain of " circulating 
improper books in the wards." Particulars were asked, and 
it was found that the offending book was Keble's Christian 

No sooner was any one phase of the religious difficulty 
adjusted than another appeared. There were Anglicans 
and Roman Catholics among the Nightingale nurses, and 
there were others selected from English hospitals, who, so 
far as their religious views were concerned, might be any- 
thing or nothing. But why, it was asked, were there no 
Presbyterians ? Representations were made to the War 
Office. " I object," wrote Miss Nightingale (Feb. 19, 1855), 
" to the principle of sending out any one, qita sectarian, not 
qua nurse. But this having already been done in the case 
of the R.C.'s, etc., I do not see how the Presbyterians can 
be refused. And therefore let six trained nurses be sent out, 
if you think fit, of whom let two-thirds be Presbyterians. 
But I must bar these fat drunken old dames. Above 14 
stone we will not have ; the provision of bedsteads is not 
strong enough. Three were nearly swamped in a caique, 
whom Mr. Bracebridge was conducting to the ship, and, 
had he not walked with the fear of the police before his 
eyes, he might easily have swamped them whole." The 
stout old dames were not Presbyterians ; but, sad to relate, 
two of the Presbyterian party did turn out to be over-fond 
of drink, and Miss Nightingale had to return them to Eng- 

^ Life and Letters of Dean Stanley, vol. i. p. 492. There is a curious 
echo of " the Rehgious Difficulty " in Purcell's Life of Manning (vol. ii. 
p. 53, 1st ed.), where a letter of Feb. 13, 1856, will be found from Manning 
to Cardinal Wiseman, discussing whether Roman Catholic chaplains should 
or should not encourage collections for the Nightingale Fund. The solu- 
tion suggested was " to let the collection be passively made without any 
ecclesiastical recognition of it." 


land. I regret to say that there were similar cases, not 
amongst the Presbyterians. 

The charges and counter-charges of proselytism were 
referred by the chaplains to the Secretary of State. Lord 
Panmure, in reply (April 27, 1855), had " to say in the first 
place, that he has perused the correspondence with great 
regret, and that he deeply laments to find that religious 
differences have arisen to such an extent as to mar the 
united energies and labours of those who are devoting 
themselves with such disinterestedness and heroic courage 
and success to the relief of the sick and wounded." The 
Minister then proceeded to promulgate instructions designed 
to prevent any proselytism by the nurses and Sisters. 
Unfortunately, his dispatch was so worded as to make 
things, from Miss Nightingale's point of view, no better, 
but rather worse. " The instructions," she wrote to Lady 
Canning (Sept. 9, 1855), " have been so completely mis- 
understood that they have been my principal difficulty. 
The R.C.'s who before were quite amenable have chosen to 
construe the rule that they ' are not to enter upon the dis- 
cussion of religious subjects with any patients other than 
those of their own faith,' to mean therefore with all of 
their own faith, and the second party of nuns who came out 
now wander over the whole Hospital out of nursing hours, 
not confining themselves to their own wards, nor even to 
patients, but * instructing ' (it is their own word) groups 
of Orderlies and Convalescents in the corridors, doing the 
work each of ten chaplains, and bringing ridicule upon the 
whole thing, while they quote the words of the War Office." 
Lady Canning, who was at this time acting as Miss Nightin- 
gale's agent for the enlistment of nurses, had proposed 
to embody Lord Panmure's instructions in the printed 
Rules and Regulations. Miss Nightingale begged her to do 
no such thing. I doubt not that Miss Nightingale's own 
verbal instructions were less ambiguous. She was one who 
never failed to say exactly what she meant. 



A great obstacle with which Miss Nightingale's work in 
the East had to contend throughout was the scarcity at 
the time of properly trained nurses. She had long ago 
formed a resolve to remedy this defect ; the seriousness of 
it was still further enforced upon her mind by painful 
experience in the Crimean War ; and her resolve was the 
more strengthened. The religious difficulty — demanding 
that nurses should be selected, to some extent, not qua 
nurses, but qua sectarians — accentuated the obstacle of 
inadequate training, which, however, would in any case 
have existed. The case is excellently put, in terms which 
doubtless reflect Miss Nightingale's own views, in a letter 
from Lady Verney to Mrs. Gaskell (May 17, 1855) : — 

Until women have gone through a real training, it is vain 
to hope that four or five weeks in a Hospital can fit them for 
one of the most difficult works that any one can be called on 
to undertake. I cannot tell you the details, you can guess 
many of them ; but when I hear estimable people talking as 
if you could turn 40 women of all ranks, degrees of virtue, and 
intelligence, into a Military Hospital, with drunken orderlies, un- 
married Chaplains, young Surgeons, &c., &c., and expect that 
they are not more likely to be unwise or tempted astray than 
the R.C. Sisters of Charity, who are bound by well-considered 
vows, love of their kind and the fear of Hell fire, then we feel that 
the " estimable people " have very little knowledge of human 
nature. F.'s form of Sisterhood is infinitely higher, I believe, 
than the R.C. and will he carried out, I doubt no more than in her 
own existence, but as it must exist without the checks and safe- 
guards of the other and inferior form, so it requires higher elements 
in the actors and a more severe training and examination. Instead 
of which the loosest possible choice takes place by people most 
excellent but not in the least qualified to choose ; goodwill and 
a " love of nursing " is enough for the Lady class. 

It is the fact, though it is not popularly known, that 
Miss Nightingale was at this time strongly opposed to 
" lady " nurses. She objected to them, not because they 
were ladies, but because they were unlikely to be well 
trained. Pious and benevolent ladies were more given, she 
said, to " spiritual flirtations with the patients," than apt 


at the proper business of surgical nursing. It was the 
trained hospital nurses that she preferred. There were 
among the 125 women who passed through her hands in 
the East more efficient and less, and in so large a flock there 
were some black sheep. But amongst the band, in all 
classes and of all denominations, there were devoted and 
competent women, whose services deserve to be held in 
grateful remembrance beside those of their Lady-in-Chief. 
And as I have had to record Miss Nightingale's criticism 
upon some of the Roman Catholics among her flock, it 
should be added that of others she wrote to Mr. Herbert : 
" They are the truest Christians I ever met with — invaluable 
in their work — devoted, heart and head, to serve God and 
mankind — not to intrigue for their Church." To the 
Reverend Superior, who came out from Bermondsey with 
the first party of nuns. Miss Nightingale was particularly 
attached. " She writes," said Cardinal Wiseman, " that 
great part of her success is due to Rev. Mother of Ber- 
mondsey, without whom it would have been a failure." ^ 

The aspect of Miss Nightingale's work, touched upon in 
this chapter, adds another to the accumulation of difficulties 
with which she had to deal. It was the one which troubled 
her most. " In this sink of misery, in this tussle of life or 
death," she felt the bitter futility of personal grievances and 
religious differences. It is worry, more than work, that 
kills ; and the religious difficulty was perhaps the last 
straw which caused the Lady-in-Chief to break down, as we 
shall hear in the next chapter, under her heavy load of 
responsibility and care. 

^ Wilfred Ward's Life of Wiseman, vol. ii. p. 191. And see Miss 
Nightingale's own words given below, p. 299. 


(May-August 1855) 

For myself, I have done my duty. I have identified my fate with 
that of the heroic dead. — Florence Nightingale (private notes, 1855). 

In the spring of 1855 Miss Nightingale decided to leave 
Scutari for a while in order to visit the hospitals in the 
Crimea. The conditions at Scutari were now greatly im- 
proved. Sanitary works had been executed. The hospitals 
were better supplied. The pressure in the wards, caused 
by the terrible winter before Sebastopol, was relieved. 
There were only iioo cases in the Barrack Hospital, and of 
those only 100 were in bed. The rate of mortality had 
fallen from 42 per cent to 22 per thousand of the cases treated. 
The siege was likely soon to be accompanied by assaults, 
and the pressure might rather be in the hospitals at Bala- 
clava, where the sick and wounded were if possible to 
remain, in order to avoid the sufferings of the sea passage 
to Scutari. 

In the Crimea, besides the regimental hospitals, there 
were four general hospitals. There was the General Hospital 
at Balaclava, estabhshed after the British occupation in 
September 1854. There was the Castle Hospital, consisting 
of huts on the " Genoese heights " above Balaclava, opened 
in April 1855. There was the Hospital of St. George's Monas- 
tery, also consisting of huts, intended for convalescent and 
ophthalmic cases ; and, lastly, there were the Hospitals of the 
Land Transport Corps, again consisting of huts, near Karani, 
All these hospitals had a complement of female nurses, 
though the Monastery Hospital not until December 1855, 



and the Land Transport Hospitals not until 1856. In the 
spring of 1855, then, there were already female nurses at the 
General Hospital and the Castle Hospital, under their own 
superintendents, but all ultimately responsible to Miss 
Nightingale — as she apprehended, and as the War Office 
intended. She was now anxious to inspect these hospitals ; 
to increase the efficiency of the female nursing establish- 
ments ; and, in particular, to introduce those washing and 
cooking arrangements which had been productive of so 
much benefit at Scutari. Her visit of inspection was ap- 
proved by the War Office ; and, by instructions dated April 
27, she was invested with full authority as Almoner of the 
Free Gifts in all the British Hospitals in the Crimea. But in 
other respects her position was somewhat ambiguous. The 
original instructions, issued by Mr. Herbert, had named her 
as Superintendent of the female nurses in all the British 
military hospitals in Turkey ; and these words gave a 
standing-ground to her opponents in the Crimea. The 
intention of the War Office was to give her general super- 
intendence, but to relieve her of direct responsibility for the 
nurses in the Crimea so long as she was at Scutari. The 
matter was not, however, cleared up till a later date,^ and 
the indefiniteness of her position in the Crimea exposed her 
to infinite worry and intrigues. 

On May 2, Miss Nightingale set forth from Scutari, 
where Mrs. Bracebridge was left in charge : — 

" Poor old Flo," Miss Nightingale wrote from the Black 
Sea, May 5, 1855, " steaming up the Bosphorus and across the 
Black Sea with four nurses, two cooks, and a boy to Crim Tartary 
(to overhaul the Regimental Hospitals) in the Robert Lowe or 
Robert Slow (for an exceedingly slow boat she is), taking back 
420 of her patients, a draught of convalescents returning to their 
regiments to be shot at again. ' A Mother in Israel,' Pastor 
Fliedner called me ; a Mother in the Coldstreams, is the more 
appropriate appellation. What suggestions do the above ideas 
make to you in Embley drawing-room ? Stranger ones perhaps 
than to me, who, on the 5th May, year of disgrace 1855, having 
been at Scutari six months to-day, am in sympathy with God, 
fulfilling the purpose I came into the world for. What the 

^ See below, p. 292. 


disappointments of the conclusion of these six months are no 
one can tell. But I am not dead, but aUve." 

Miss Nightingale was accompanied to the Crimea by the 
faithful Mr. Bracebridge, willing as ever to serve her. Among 
the nurses was Mrs. Roberts, whose exceptional efficiency 
and personal devotion to the Lady-in-Chief were soon to 
be called in need. Of the cooks, the chief was Soyer the 
Great, from whose cheerfully gossiping and pleasantly 
egotistical pages ^ some details are drawn in this chapter. 
The " boy " mentioned in Miss Nightingale's letter was 
Thomas, a drummer, who, though only twelve years of age, 
used to call himself " Miss Nightingale's Man." He was a 
regular enfant de troupe, says M. Soyer, full of activity, wit, 
intelligence, and glee. He would draw himself up to his 
full height, and explain that he had " forsaken his instru- 
ments in order to devote his civil and military career to 
Miss Nightingale." She was attended also by a soldier 
invalided from the 68th Light Infantry, whom Mr. Brace- 
bridge had picked out to serve as messenger. In i860 he 
wrote a manuscript account of his experiences in the Crimea,^ 
and this is another first-hand source from which particulars 
are drawn in the present chapter. The party arrived at 
Balaclava on May 5, and the decks of vessels in the harbour 
were crowded with spectators anxious to catch a glimpse 
of the famous Lady-in-Chief. There was no accommodation 
for her ashore ; so her headquarters were on board the 
Robert Lowe, and when that vessel left, on the sailing trans- 
port London. 


Miss Nightingale set to work immediately, and with 
characteristic energy. One of her first duties was a visit 
of ceremony to Lord Raglan. She was a good horsewoman, 

1 See Bibliography B, No. 15. 

^ Robert Robinson, on his return to England, was sent to school and 
an agricultural college by Miss Nightingale, and obtained employment 
on Lord Berners's estate in Scotland. Miss Nightingale was constantly 
befriending him, e.g. in paying his expenses for a visit to London to see 
the Exhibition of 1862, and in sending him illustrated newspapers, and even 
the Times. There was another Crimean lad, besides Tommy, one William 
Jones, with a wooden leg. See below, p. 304, where account is also given 
of another protege, Peter. 


and as a girl had been fond of riding. She was now mounted 
" upon a very pretty mare, which, by its gambols and 
caracoling, seemed proud to carry its noble charge, and our 
cavalcade produced an extraordinary effect upon the motley 
crowd of all nations assembled at Balaclava, who were 
astonished at seeing a lady so well escorted." Was not the 
great Soyer himself among the escort ? The Commander of 
the Forces was away, but Miss Nightingale was taken to the 
Three Mortar Battery, and the soldiers, as she passed, gave 
her three times three. This visit to the front made a 
profound and indelible impression upon her.^ It is first 
recorded in a letter of May 10, which was forwarded to 
Windsor Castle.^ " Fancy," she wrote, " working five 
nights out of seven in the trenches ! Fancy being 36 hours 
in them at a stretch, as they were all December, l5^ng down, 
or half lying down, often 48 hours with no food but raw 
salt pork, sprinkled with sugar, rum, and biscuit ; nothing 
hot, because the exhausted soldier could not collect his own 
fuel, as he was expected to do, to cook his own ration ; and 
fancy through all this the army preserving their courage 
and patience as they have done, and being now eager (the 
old ones more than the young ones) to be led even into 
the trenches. There was something sublime in the spectacle." 
" When I see the camp," she wrote to Lady Canning 
(May 10), "I wonder not that the army suffered so much, 
but that there is any army left at all ; but now all is looking 
up. Sir John M'Neill has done wonders." With Sir John 
M'Neil!, a doctor who afterwards entered the Political Service 
in the East, Miss Nightingale formed a great friendship. He, 
with Colonel Tulloch, had been sent out to the Crimea by 
Lord Palmerston's Government to report upon the Com- 
missariat system. 

Miss Nightingale, on this and her later visits to the 
Crimea, saw and heard of many deeds of heroism which she 
loved to tell. " I remember," she wrote, " a sergeant, who 
was on picket, the rest of the picket killed, and himself 
battered about the head, stumbled back to camp, and on his 

^ See, e.g., below, pp. 317, 488, and Vol. II. p. 411. 
- Found among the Prince Consort's papers, and printed in Sir Theo- 
dore Martin's Life of him, vol. iii. p. 214. 



way picked up a wounded man, and brought him in on his 
shoulders to the hues, where he fell down insensible. When, 
after many hours, he recovered his senses, I believe after 
trepanning, his first words were to ask after his comrade, 
' Is he alive ? ' ' Comrade, indeed ! yes, he's alive, it is 
the General.' At that moment the General, though badly 
wounded, appeared at the bedside. ' Oh, General, it's you, 
is it, I brought in, I'm so glad. I didn't know your honour, 
but if I'd known it was you, I'd have saved you all the same.' 
This is the true soldier's spirit." ^ 


During the few days immediately after her arrival at 
Balaclava, Miss Nightingale carried on an active investiga- 
tion of the hospitals, regimental and general ; arranged 
various affairs in connection with the sisters and nurses ; 
discussed the building of new huts ; and, in conjunction 
with M. Soyer, planned the erection of several kitchens for 
extra diet. Here, as at Scutari, she was fearless of contagion, 
and tended patients stricken with fever. On return to her 
ship one evening she complained of great fatigue ; and on 
the following morning, feeling no better, she sent for Dr. 
Anderson, Chief Medical Officer at the General Hospital. 
He called others of the medical staff into consultation, and a 
joint bulletin was issued to the effect that Miss Nightingale 
was suffering from Crimean fever. They advised that she 
should be removed from the ship, and she was carried on a 
stretcher by relays of soldiers to the Castle Hospital on the 
Genoese Heights. The hut in which she lay was immediately 
behind those of the wounded soldiers. The attack of fever 
was sharp, and she was, as she afterwards admitted to her 
friends, " very near to death." There are scraps of manu- 
script among her papers (for even in illness she could not 
be kept from the use of her pen) which show a wandering 

The news of Miss Nightingale's illness was received with 
consternation in England, and the anxiety of her friends 
was intense, though Lord Raglan had thoughtfully arranged 

1 Letter on the Volunteers, 1861. See Bibliography A, No. 25. 


that a telegraphic dispatch from him should not reach 
them till, after two or three days of the fever, the doctors 
were able to hold out hopes of recovery. " Sitting to-day," 
wrote her sister to a friend, from Embley (May 27), " in 
the little Vicarage woodhouse, waiting for the people to come 
out from church (for we were not up to the whole service), 
in order to go in to the Communion which she loves so well, 
and which we always take with her and God, and which she 
is taking in spirit or reality to-day if she is alive, and if not 
is taking in a higher and happier sense — Mama said, * I 
thank God she is ready for life or for death ' ; and in that, 
dear, we truly strive to rest, though the spirit would 
quail, I am afraid, if there were not hope at the bottom." 
The anxiety in the War Hospitals was scarcely less. 
" The soldiers turned their faces to the wall," said one, 
" and cried." The crisis passed, and on May 24 Lord 
Raglan was able to telegraph home that the patient was out 
of danger, and three days later that she was going on favour- 
ably. The bulletins were forwarded to the Queen, and on 
May 28 Her Majesty, in writing to Lord Panmure, was 
" truly thankful to learn that that excellent and valuable 
person, Miss Nightingale, is safe." ^ At this time a horse- 
man rode up to her hut, and the nurse, Mrs. Roberts, who 
had been enjoined to keep the patient quiet, refused to let 
him in. He said that he most particularly desired to see 
Miss Nightingale. " And pray," said Mrs. Roberts, " who 
are you ? " " Ah, only a soldier," replied the visitor, 
" but I have ridden a long way, and your patient knows 
me very well." He was admitted, and a month later was 
himself laid low and died. It was Lord Raglan. 


Miss Nightingale, on becoming convalescent, was strongly 
advised by the doctors to take a voyage to England. She 
would not listen to such advice. Her work at the front had 
but just begun, and she was resolved to return to it after 
the shortest possible delay. The voyage to the Bosphorus 
was the longest that she could be induced to take. Her 

1 Panmure Papers, vol. i. p. 215. 


good Mrs. Bracebridge had arrived from Scutari just in 
time to accompany her friend on the return voyage. Lord 
Ward, whose steam-yacht was in harbour at the time, 
pressed the use of it upon her, and in it she was taken to 
Scutari. When the yacht reached Scutari, all the high 
officials were present to meet it. One of the large barges, 
used to remove the sick and wounded, was brought along- 
side, and Miss Nightingale, in a state of extreme weakness 
and exhaustion, was lowered into it. At the pier soldiers 
were in readiness, who carried her on a stretcher to the 
chaplain's house, followed by a large and sympathetic 
crowd. "I do not remember anything during the cam- 
paign," wrote the good-hearted Soyer, " so gratifying to 
the feelings as that simple though grand procession." 
" Ah," said a soldier, " there was no sadder sight than to 
see that dear lady carried up from the pier on a stretcher 
just like we men, and perhaps by some of the fellows she 
nursed herself." ^ It was the same when she was presently 
moved from Scutari to the shore in order to go to Therapia, 
where the Ambassador had placed his summer residence at 
her disposal. She was carried in a litter by four guardsmen, 
but, though it was only five minutes' walk to the shore, 
there were two relays, and her baggage was divided among 
twelve soldiers, though two could easily have carried the 
whole,^ so great was the desire of the men to share in the 
honour of helping the Lady-in-Chief. 

Her recovery was gradual, and her weakness great. Mrs. 
Bracebridge described her as unable to feed herself or speak 
above a whisper. The extreme exhaustion was more from 
the previous overstrain on mind and body than from the 
fever, the doctors said, and they recommended complete 
change and rest. Mr. Sidney Herbert wrote, imploring her 
to come home for two months : " We are delighted," wrote 
her mother (July 9), " to think of you at Therapia. Oh, my 
love, how I trust that you will, among the numerous lessons 
which your life has been spent in learning, be able to perfect 
that most difficult one of standing and waiting." She 
was to be lessoned in that form of service, but not till 

1 Blackwood, p. 115. 
* Memoirs of Lady Eastlake, vol. ii. p. 44. 


after many more years of arduous labour, and for the 
present she would not hear of any return to England. The 
feeling of the soldiers for her touched her so deeply that 
she could not bear, she said, to leave them. Gradually 
she recovered strength. " We have a charming account," 
wrote her sister (Aug. 21), " from Lothian Nicholson just 
ordered out to Crimea, who is quite enthusiastic, dear old 
boy, about her good looks, which, as all her hair has been 
cut off, is good testimony — ' her own smile,' he talks of, and 
says he can hardly believe she has gone through such a 
winter. The dear Bracebridges say that her improvement 
in the last week was delightful and wonderful." Already, 
in July, her business letters were resumed. In August 
she was in the full rush of work again. The doctors and 
her friends still besought her to take rest. But her in- 
domitable spirit would listen to no counsels of retreat. The 
end of the war was not yet in sight. Even Sebastopol had 
not yet fallen. So long as there remained sick and wounded 
in the Levant to be cared for, she was resolved to remain 
also. A soldier was told that the Lady-in-Chief would 
probably be sent home. " But how will they paiH with 
her," he said, " what'll they do without her ? they set all 
their hopes on she." There were nurses, too, naturally 
anxious to rejoin their families or friends at home, who said 
that, if she went, they would go. The presence of Miss 
Nightingale, with her lofty ideals and inspiring self-devotion, 
was the attraction which kept many of these women at their 
posts. Some had already died. Mrs. Elizabeth Drake, 
one of the nurses whom Miss Nightingale had taken with her 
to the Crimea, died on August 9 of low fever at Balaclava. 
" I cannot tell you," wrote Miss Nightingale to the Master 
of St. John's House (Aug. 16, 1855), " what I felt when I 
heard of her death, unexpected alike by all. Her two 
physicians thought her going on well, and I expected her in 
every convoy that came down from Balaclava, as she was 
coming to me to recruit. I have lost in her the best of all 
the women here. Once I proposed to her to go home, but 
she scouted the idea entirely and said her health was better 
here than in England. I feel like a criminal in having robbed 
you of one so truly to be loved and honoured. It seemed 

262 WORK RESUMED pt.h 

as if it pleased God to remove from the work those who 
have been most useful to it. His will be done ! " Nurse 
Drake's body was brought to Scutari, and Miss Nightin- 
gale erected a small marble cross over it in the ceme- 
tery. It was no time, when members of the rank-and-file 
were falling at the post of duty, for the chief to listen to 
counsels of medical prudence. Nor, indeed, at any time did 
Miss Nightingale harbour even a passing thought of what 
would have seemed to her an act of military desertion. 
She remained till the end of the war came, and till the last 
transport had sailed ; working indefatigably as ever, and 
in some respects in new spheres of usefulness, both in the 
Crimea and at Scutari ; to what good effect we shall hear 
in later chapters, but at great cost to her own comfort and 
bodily strength. She had been appointed, as she used to 
say, to a subsidiary post in the Queen's Army ^ ; the 
humblest post, it might be, but still a post of duty. The 
men had dared and suffered ; and Florence Nightingale 
was resolved to show that a woman too had strength to 
suffer and endure. 

During the weeks of convalescence at Scutari, Miss 
Nightingale used sometimes to walk at evening on the shore, 
in full sight of that view which, when she had first come 
there, they told her was the finest in the world, but which, 
in the crush of work, she had no time to enjoy. ^ She sent 
a letter to her people at home describing one such evening 
walk, and it was read out in the family circle. Lady Byron, 
who was staying with them at the time, heard it read, and 
said that it was " like a hymn — simple and deep-toned." 
She described how, on the opposite side, the city of Con- 
stantinople was defined against the burning sky of the 
setting sun, but the outline was changed by the fall of some 
mounds in an earthquake. Near her were the graves of 
the heroic dead, the thousands with whom, she said, she 
felt identified. " It went into my heart," wrote Lady 
B5n:on, " as the poetry of fact — for she has made poetry 
fact." The letter went on to speak of the British burying- 

^ She was especially pleased when in March 1856 her name appeared 
for the first time in General Orders ; see below, p. 293. 
- Above, p. 173. 

cH.ix "THE HEROIC DEAD" 263 

ground at Scutari, and Miss Nightingale added these 
Hnes : — 

" They are not here ! " No, not beneath that sod. 

And yet not far away. 
For they can mingle their new hfe from God 

With Uving souls, not clay. 

And they, " the heroic dead," will softly pour 

Into thy spirit's ear 
A music human still, but sad no more, 

To tell thee they are near — 

Near thee with higher ministering aid 

Thy heart-work to return. 
So that each sacrifice that love has made 

A victory shall earn ! ^ 

1 The words in inverted commas were quotations from Miss Nightin- 
gale's letters. These had been shown to a friend, who thereupon wrote 
the lines, above quoted, and sent them to her. 



Miss Nightingale looks to her reward from this country in having a 
fresh field for her labours, and means of extending the good that she has 
already begun. A comphment cannot be paid dearer to her heart than 
in giving her work to do. — Sidney Herbert, 

The news of Miss Nightingale's illness spread sympathetic 
anxiety throughout Great Britain. Even more than when 
her mission of mercy was first announced, she became the 
popular heroine ; and more than ever men and women of 
all classes sought means of showing their sympathy. 

Lady Verney, whose depth of feeling is not concealed by 
the play of humour which sparkles pleasantly upon the sur- 
face, described, successively, the penalties and the pleasures 
of being the sister of a heroine : — 

{Miss F. P. Nightingale to Miss Ellen Toilet.) Embley, 
Friday [Summer of 1855]. I am quite done with writing, a 
second blast of linen and knitted socks was nearly the death of me, 
and ' hints,' my dear ! — oh, my horror of being asked for hints, — 
such as " can newspapers be put into the post free ? " and such 
like niaiseries. How grateful I am to you for never once having 
inquired whether socks or muffetees are most required, and 
whether you are safe in sending 6 towels and an old tablecloth to 
London, or whether they had better come to us. It sounds very 
ungrateful, I am afraid, but when one's wrist aches over the two 
hundredth repetition of the matter, I do wish the public would 
apply to the nearest post office, or read that scarce and erudite 
work the Times, and use their sense not their pens. 

However, these words are only when I am cross at having 
been prevented from writing to the folk I love, such as thee, of 
the progress of Scutari. Else generally the feeling in every soul, 
so wide and so deep, touches us more than I can tell, and helps us 
over the inevitable weight of the anxiety more than I thought 



possible — heavy, redfaced, old fox-hunting Squires, who never 
had a " sentiment " in their lives, come with their eyes full of 
tears ; narrow-minded Farmers with both eyes on the main chance 
are melted ; young ladies who never got beyond balls and concerts 
are warmed. Dearest, I do feel of the feeling she has raised, it 
blesseth " him here who gives and those out there who take," and 
will do good wider than one hoped. I can't so much as write for 
a dispatch box for her (thinking an official of her scale must 
want one for her papers) without its coming back full of pretty 
httle match boxes as an offering, and wrapped in a large contribu- 
tion of old sheets. ... I must give you the cream of this last 
three or four days' letters. Firstly, Mr. Hookham, the bookseller, 
sending down a parcel, says he " trusts to hear of the return of 
Miss N., as he does not think, though convalescent, she can get 
well on the shores of Bosphorus or Black Sea ; that a General or 
Admiral can be replaced, but there can be no successor to Miss N., 
her skill, her fortitude, her courage cannot be replaced. I speak 
of courage in the most exalted sense that it is possible to char- 
acterise the bravery and devotion of woman." Then comes a 
letter from a shipowner in the north of Scotland going to launch 
a vessel, and wanting to call it after her, sends to have her name 
quite " correct." Next, Lady Dunsany saying that " Joan of 
Arc was not more a creation of the moment and for the moment 
than F. Joan's was the same unearthly influence carrying all 
before its spirit might — Joan's was the same strange and sexless 
identity, which, belonging as it were neither to man nor woman, 
seemed to disembody and combine the choicest results of both, and 
then to sweep down conventionahties, prejudices, and pruderies, 
with the clear, cold, crystal sceptre of its majestic purity. Joan's 
mission, too, was the condensation of her country's moral and 
intellectual power in the person of a young and single woman when 
the men of that country were so many of them imbecile and effete ! 
I think my parallel runs pretty close." Lord Dunsany adds 
that he has no time to write, so he says, " ditto to Mrs. Burke," 
and that I know he is " fanatico for Joan of Arc rediviva, God bless 
her." Then a bit from Lady Byron, saying, " even her illness 
will advance her work as all things must for those who do all with 
His aid," and more that is most beautiful. Then 2 copies of the 
History of Women, with portrait of Miss N. to be sent to her 
" from the author," and a flaming extract from a County paper 
in a pamphlet. Stroll to Lea Hurst, 20 copies ditto, ditto, and a 
majestic effusion from the family grocer about " heroic conduct," 
" brave and noble Miss N.," " identified with Crimean success 
and sad disasters," " posterity," " arm of civihsation," " rampant 
barbarism," &c. &c., and so on. 

{To Florence Nightingale.) Dec. 8 [1855]. It has been curious 


(as your representative) how our Burlington Street room has 
seen Manning and Maurice, Mr. Best and the Chancellor, Lady 
Ameha Jebb and Mrs. Herbert, Lady Byron and Lady Canning, 
the extremes of all kinds crowding in to help you in every way 
that they could devise. Then come in tradespeople, all so intent 
on you ; and working folk, your stoutest supporters, and those 
you will care most for. And we are tenderly treated and affec- 
tionately welcomed by one and all of all classes and opinions for 
your sake, my dear, and very sweet to me is kindliness for your 
dear sake ; it seems as if it were part of you coming to meet me. 


But Miss Nightingale's popularity was not limited to 
such circles as those in which her family moved. Letters 
from soldiers in the Crimea had made her known in thousands 
of humble homes, and she became the heroine of the cottage, 
the workshop, and the alleys. Old soldiers dropped into 
poetry about her, and rhymed broadsheets, with rough 
woodcuts of the Lady with the Lamp, issued from printers 
in Seven Dials and Soho. One of these songs, entitled " The 
Nightingale in the East," and intended to go to the tune of 
" The Cottage and Water Mill," was especially popular with 
its refrain : — 

So forward, my lads, may your hearts never fail. 

You are cheer'd by the presence of a sweet Nightingale. ^ 

Then from the same class of printing-offices there issued 
" Price One Penny, The Only and Unabridged Edition of 
the Life of Miss Nightingale, Detailing her Christian Heroic 
Deeds in the Land of Tumult and Death, which has made 
her name most deservedly Immortal, not only in England, 

^ For the text see Bibliography B, No. 7. An article in the Quarterly 
Review of April 1867, entitled " The Nightingale in the East," is " a study 
of the Poetry of Seven Dials." The popular ditty about Miss Nightingale 
has been sung under many skies and to many audiences ; never to greater 
effect than on Christmas Day 1870 in St. Thomas's Hospital (then in the 
Surrey Gardens) . The nurses had arranged a Christmas treat ; the 
children had sung hymns, and older patients had given popular songs of 
the day. A patient in the Accident Ward, a coal-heaver with a broken 
leg, then volunteered ; when the words of the refrain caught the ears of 
the Nightingale nurses, " we dropped all work " (says one of them), " and 
listened intently till the song was over, all enthusiasm for our Chief." The 
singer told them that he was an old soldier, and had been nursed by Miss 
Nightingale in the General Hospital at Balaclava. 


but in all Civilized Parts of the World, winning the Prayers 
of the Soldier, the Widow, and the Orphan." The poets 
and biographers were not only in Seven Dials. The Poet's 
Corner of every newspaper, from Punch and the Spectator 
to the smallest country journal, was devoted to the praise of 
the heroine. Ingenious triflers were at work, and it was 
found that her anagram was indeed, as an old definition has 
it, poesie transferred, and Florence Nightingale became 
" Flit on, cheering angel." Prize poems at the universities 
pictured her, in the manner of such compositions, walking 

Where strong men tremble and where brave hearts fail. 

Then the musicians took up the Popular Heroine, and 
both now, and after her return from the Crimea, sentimental 
songs, set to music, were inscribed to her : " Angels with 
Sweet Approving Smiles," " The Shadow on the Pillow," 
"The Soldier's Widow," "The Woman's Smile," "The 
Soldier's Cheer " — this latter " played by the band of the 
97th Regiment," — " Die Soldaten Lebewohl," " The Star 
of the East," and so forth. The stationers followed in the 
wake of the printers, and brought out note-paper with a 
picture of Florence Nightingale as the water-mark, or with 
lithographed views of " Lea Hurst, her home." Portraits 
of her were eagerly sought ; and as the family were un- 
willing to supply them, hkenesses had to be invented to 
adorn sentimental prints. Life-boats and emigrant-ships 
were christened The Florence Nightingale. Children, streets, 
valses, and race-horses were named after her. " The 
Forest Plate Handicap was won by Miss Nightingale, 
beating Barbarity and nine others." Tradesmen printed 
portraits and short lives of her on their paper bags. 
At Fairs there were " Grand Exhibitions of Miss Florence 
Nightingale administering to the Sick and Wounded." 
China figures, with no recognizable likeness to her, but 
inscribed " Florence Nightingale," were put on sale. The 
public would not be denied. " Yes, indeed," wrote Lady 
Verney to her sister, " the people love you with a sort 
of passionate tenderness that goes to my heart." 

Miss Nightingale did not relish all this. They had 


sent her various supplies for the sick, and also a packet 
of " Lives," " Portraits," and the like to Scutari, " My 
effigies and praises," she wrote in reply, " were less welcome. 
I do not affect indifference to real sympathy, but I have 
felt painfully, the more painfully since I have had time to 
hear of it, the eclat which has been given to this adventure. 
The small still beginning, the simple hardship, the silent and 
gradual struggle upwards, these are the climate in which an 
enterprise really thrives and grows. Time has not altered 
our Saviour's lesson on that point, which has been learnt 
successively by all reformers from their own experience. 
The vanity and frivolity which the eclat thrown upon this 
affair has called forth has done us unmitigated harm, and 
has brought mischief on (perhaps) one of the most promising 
enterprises that ever set sail from England. Our own old 
party which began its work in hardship, toil, struggle, and 
obscurity has done better than any other." 


When it became known in England that Miss Nightingale 
had recovered from her illness, and had resolved to remain 
at her post until the end of the war, a movement at once 
sprang up for marking in some public manner the nation's 
appreciation of her services and her devotion. There was 
at first some idea, as Lady Verney wrote, of a personal 
testimonial in the " teapot and bracelet " kind. Mrs. 
Herbert, who was consulted in the matter, knew her 
friend well enough to be certain that Miss Nightingale would 
decline to accept any such proposal. The only form of 
testimonial to which she would ever listen was something 
to enable her the better to carry on her work for others. 
Miss Nightingale was written to, and replied, in accordance 
with Mrs. Herbert's expectation, that she must absolutely 
decline any testimonial of a personal character. Her friends 
knew well that what she would best like was the establish- 
ment in one form or another of " an English Kaiserswerth." 
This suggestion was accordingly put before her, and she 
was asked to submit a plan. Her reply was, again, very 
characteristic. Immersed in the crowded work of the 


moment, she was in no mood to make future plans ; but she 
took the earhest opportunity of intimating that, whatever 
the plan might be, she must be the autocrat of it. " Dr. 
Bence-Jones has written to me," she said (Sept. 27), " for 
a plan. People seem to think that I have nothing to do 
but to sit here and form plans. If the public choose to 
recognize my services and my judgment in this manner, 
they must leave those services and that judgment un- 
fettered." She was experiencing enough of fetters in the 
East to last her for a lifetime. An influential Committee was 
formed, on which Mr. Sidney Herbert and Mr. S. C. Hall 
served as honorary secretaries, and it was decided to raise 
a fund for the establishment of some School for Nurses, 
under a Council, to be nominated by Miss Nightingale. A 
public meeting was called for November 29, 1855, at Willis's 
Rooms, " to give expression to a general feeling that the 
services of Miss Nightingale in the hospitals of the East 
demand the grateful recognition of the British people." The 
room proved far too small. It was crowded to suffocation ; 
and never, said the Times, in reporting the meeting, had a 
more brilliant, enthusiastic, and unanimous gathering been 
held in London. 

" Burlington St., this 29th of November," wrote Mrs. 
Nightingale to Florence, " the most interesting day of thy 
mother's life. It is very late, my child, but I cannot go to 
bed without telling you that your meeting has been a glorious 
one. I believe that you will be more indifferent than any 
of us to your fame, but be glad that we feel this is a proud 
day for us ; for the like has never happened before, but will, 
I trust, from your example, gladden the hearts of many 
future mothers. One thing will rejoice you. We were all 
as anxious as you were there that the good Bracebridges' 
devoted love should be publicly recognized, and Sidney 
Herbert has taken this occasion to do it most gracefully. 
The Duke of Cambridge was in the chair and made a simple, 
manly speech. Sidney Herbert's delighted every one. 
Lord Stanley, the Duke of Argyll, and Sir J. Pakington spoke 
capitally. Monckton Milnes was very touching. Lord 
Lansdowne as good as in his best days. All seemed inspired 
by their subject. Parthe and I, though we could not take 

270 THE SPEECHES px.n 

courage to go ourselves, staid it over ; our informants came 
flocking in, and we were rewarded." " Fancy if you can," 
wrote Mr. Nightingale to his sister, " our joy at the universal 
oneness of the meeting which has honoured Flo with its 
absolute fiat of ' Well done ' and well to do. I am not apt 
to be easily satisfied with the things which I see and feel 
or hear or think, but all people seem to agree that there 
was there nothing wanting," 

The speeches deserve, I think, all that the proud mother 
said of them. Mr. Sidney Herbert's was, perhaps, the best, 
if one can judge from the reports ; and certainly it is the 
best remembered, for in the course of it he read out the 
soldier's letter, which, as mentioned already (p. 237), became 
famous throughout the world. But " the truest thing," as 
Lady Verney wrote to her sister, " was said by Monckton 
Milnes. He said that too much had been made of the 
sacrifice of position and luxury in your case." How true 
that was is known to all who have read the first part of this 
volume. " God knows," said Mr. Milnes, " that the luxury 
of one good action must to a mind such as hers be more 
than equivalent for the loss of all the pomps and vanities 
of life." 

And Mr. Milnes, with the touch of a poet and the feeling 
of a friend, said another very true thing. He drew a con- 
trast between the crowded and brilliant scene before him, 
and " the scene which met the gaze of that noble woman, 
who was now devoting herself to the service of her suffering 
fellow-creatures on the black shores of Crim Tartary, over- 
looking the waters of the inhospitable sea." She was 
grateful for sympathy ; but the glitter of praise and reputa- 
tion was as nothing, or less than nothing, to her. She was 
wrestling by those bleak shores with disease and death, 
wrestling, too, with jealousies and intrigues and other 
difficulties. She cared for no recognition, except in so far 
as it could help her in her work. A contribution of £1000 
to her private fund, sent by the people of New Zealand in 
November, greatly pleased her. " If my name," she wrote 
to her parents, " and my having done what I could for God 
and mankind has given you pleasure, that is real pleasure to 
me. My reputation has not been a boon to me in my work ; 


but if you have been pleased, that is enough. I shall love 
my name now, and shall feel that it is the greatest return 
that you can find satisfaction in hearing your child named, 
and in feeling that her work draws sympathies together — 
some return for what you have done for me. Life is sweet 
after all." 

The form taken by the memorial, inaugurated at the 
public meeting in Willis's Rooms, was the establishment of a 
" Nightingale Fund," to enable her to establish and control 
an institute for the training, sustenance, and protection of 
nurses, paid and unpaid. A copy of the resolution was sent 
to Miss Nightingale, who acknowledged it in a letter from 
Scutari (Jan. 6, 1856) : " Dear Mr. Herbert — In answer 
to your letter (which followed me to the Crimea and back 
to Scutari) proposing to me the undertaking of a Training 
School for Nurses, I will first beg to say that it is impossible 
for me to express what I have felt in regard to the sympathy 
and the confidence shown to me by the originators and sup- 
porters of this scheme. Exposed as I am to be misinter- 
preted and misunderstood, in a field of action in which the 
work is new, complicated, and distant from many who sit 
in judgment upon it, — it is indeed an abiding support to 
have such sympathy and such appreciation brought home 
to me in the midst of labour and difficulties all but over- 
powering. I must add, however, that my present work is 
such as I would never desert for any other, so long as I see 
room to believe that what I may do here is unfinished. May 
I, then, beg you to express to the Committee that I accept 
their proposal, provided I may do so on their understanding 
of this great uncertainty as to when it will be possible for 
me to carry it out ? " ^ 

Public meetings in support of the Fund were held 
throughout England and in the British Dominions.^ Among 
the speeches made at these meetings, one of the most notable 
was Lord Stanley's at Manchester. " There is no part of 
England," he said, " no city or county, scarcely a consider- 

^ Report of the Nightingale Fund, " Addenda," pp. 1-2. 

* Reports of some of the meetings are collected in the Report of the 
Nightingale Fund. At Manchester (Jan. 17, 1856), in addition to Lord 
Stanley, Mr. Herbert and Mr. Milnes spoke ; at Oxford (Jan. 23), Mr. 
Herbert again spoke ; at Brighton (Jan. 14), Mr. Milnes. 


able village, where some cottage household has not been 
comforted amidst its mourning for the loss of one who had 
fallen in the war, by the assurance that his last moments 
were watched, and his worst sufferings soothed, by that 
care, at once tender and skilful, which no man, and few 
women, could have shown. True heroism is not so plentiful 
that we can afford to let it pass unrecognized — if not for the 
honour of those who show it, yet very much for our own. 
The best test of a nation's moral state is the kind of claim 
which it selects for honour. And with the exception of 
Howard, the prison reformer, I know no person besides 
Miss Nightingale, who, within the last hundred years, 
within this island, or perhaps in Europe, has voluntarily 
encountered dangers so imminent, and undertaken offices 
so repulsive, working for a large and worthy object, in a pure 
spirit of duty towards God and compassion for man." Lord 
Stanley showed a true appreciation, too, of the facts in 
pointing out the strength of character which Miss Nightingale 
had shown as a pioneer. " It is not easy everywhere, 
especially in England, to set about doing what no one has 
done before. Many persons will undergo considerable 
risks, even that of death itself, when they know that they 
are engaged in a cause which, besides approving itself to 
their consciences, commands sympathy and approval, when 
they know that their motives are appreciated and their 
conduct applauded. But in this case custom was to be 
violated, precedent broken through, the surprise, sometimes 
the censure of the world to be braved. And do not under- 
rate that obstacle. We hardly know the strength of those 
social ties that bind us until the moment when we attempt 
to break them." ^ The Nightingale Fund was taken up 
heartily, but there was some carping criticism, and the 
jealousies which attended Miss Nightingale's work found 
expression against the Fund in her honour. There were 
great ladies who, strange as it may now seem, regarded 
the attempt to raise the status of the nursing profession as a 
silly fad. " Lady Pam," wrote Lord Granville, " thinks 
the Nightingale Fund great humbug. ' The nurses are very 
good now ; perhaps they do drink a Httle, but so do the 

1 speeches of the 15th Earl of Derby, 1894, vol. i. pp. 16, 18. 


ladies' monthly nurses, and nothing can be better than 
them ; poor people, it must be so tiresome sitting up all 
night.' " 1 The existence of the Fund was notified in General 
Orders to the army in the East. " I hear," wrote Dr. 
Robertson at Scutari to Dr. Hall in the Crimea, " that you 
have not (any more than myself) subscribed your day's 
pay to the Nightingale Fund. I certainly said, the moment 
it appeared in Orders, I would not do so, and thereby 
countenance what I disapproved. Others may do as they 
please, but though Linton, Cruikshanks, and Lawson have 
all subscribed, I believe the subscriptions in the hospital 
are not many or large." ^ But this disgruntlement of 
the doctors was not shared by the troops, who subscribed 
nearly £9000 to the Fund. The Commander of the Forces, 
in sending to the Secretary of the Fund a first remittance 
of £4000 from " Headquarters, Crimea," wrote (Febru- 
ary 5, 1856) that this amount, " the result of voluntary 
individual offerings, plainly indicates the universal 
feehng of gratitude which exists among the troops 
engaged in the Crimea for the care bestowed upon, and 
the relief administered to, themselves and their comrades, 
at the period of their greatest sufferings, by the skilful 
arrangements, and the unwearying, constant personal 
attention, of Miss Nightingale and the other ladies associated 
with her." The Navy and the Coastguard Service sub- 
scribed also. Nor was " society " all on the side of Lady 
Palmerston. A concert given by Madame Goldschmidt 
(Jenny Lind) brought in nearly £2000. The ultimate 
application of the Fund did not follow precisely the lines 
originally proposed, but it was the means of enabling Miss 
Nightingale to do one of the most useful pieces of her 
life's work.^ 

The sympathy and interest of the Royal Family in Miss 
Nightingale's work had been shown by the presence of the 
Duke of Cambridge in the chair at Willis's Rooms ; but 
the Queen desired to associate herself in some more direct 
and signal measure with " the grateful recognition " by her 

^ Fitzmaurice, Life of the Second Earl Granville, vol. i. p. 136. 
^ Hall, p. 449. 
* See below, p. 456. 

274 THE QUEEN'S GIFT pt.h 

people. A few weeks after the Public Meeting the following 
letter was sent : — 

Windsor Castle [November 1855].! Dear Miss Night- 
ingale — You are, I know, well aware of the high sense I enter- 
tain of the Christian devotion which you have displayed during 
this great and bloody war, and I need hardly repeat to you how 
warm my admiration is for your services, which are fully equal 
to those of my dear and brave soldiers, whose sufferings you have 
had the privilege of alleviating in so merciful a manner. I am, 
however, anxious of marking my feeUngs in a manner which I 
trust will be agreeable to you, and therefore send you with this 
letter a brooch, the form and emblems of which commemorate 
your great and blessed work, and which, I hope, you will wear as 
a mark of the high approbation of your Sovereign ! 

It will be a very great satisfaction to me, when you return 
at last to these shores, to make the acquaintance of one who has 
set so bright an example to our sex. And with every prayer for 
the preservation of your valuable health, beheve me, always, 
yours sincerely, Victoria R. 

The jewel, which was designed by the Prince Consort, 
resembles a badge rather than a brooch, bearing a St. 
George's Cross in red enamel, and the Royal cypher sur- 
mounted by a crown in diamonds. The inscription, 
" Blessed are the Merciful," encircles the badge, which also 
bears the word " Crimea." On the reverse is the inscrip- 
tion : "To Miss Florence Nightingale, as a mark of esteem 
and gratitude for her devotion towards the Queen's brave 
soldiers. — From Victoria R., 1855." 

" I hope," wrote Lady Verney (Dec. 27, 1855), " you will 
wear your Star to please the soldiers on Sundays and holi- 
days ; because, judging from those at home, it will be such a 
pleasure to them to know that the Queen has done her best 
to do you honour." At home. Miss Nightingale never wore 
the decoration. She wore it in the East, on one occasion 
certainly (p. 296) ; and possibly on other occasions. If so, 
it would have been for the reason suggested by her sister. 

^ Wrongly dated " January 1856 " in Letters of Queen Victoria, voL iii. 
p. 215. The gift was announced in the Morning Post of December 20, 
1855 ; the brooch reached Miss Nightingale in November, and her reply 
had been received. by Dec. 21 (see below, p. 278). An illustrated account 
of the gift appeared in the Illustrated London News, Feb. 2, 1856. It may 
now be seen in the Museum of the United Service Institution. 


She loved the soldiers. Honours and reputation, so far as 
they were valued by her at all (and that was little), were 
valued only as a means to the end of further service. With 
what zeal, and to what good purpose, she was now devoting 
herself to serve the best interests of the common soldier, 
we shall learn in the next chapter. 


THE soldiers' FRIEND 

Human nature is a noble and beautiful thing ; not a foul nor a base 
thing. All the sin of men I esteem as their disease, not their nature ; as a 
folly which can be prevented, not a necessity which must be accepted. 
And my wonder, even when things are at their worst, is always at the 
height which this human nature can attain. — Ruskin. 

" What the horrors of war are," wrote Miss Nightingale on 
her way to the Crimea in May 1855/ " no one can imagine. 
They are not wounds, and blood, and fever, spotted and low, 
and dysentery, chronic and acute, and cold and heat and 
famine. They are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoral- 
ization and disorder on the part of the inferior ; jealousies, 
meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the 
_^superior." Then she goes on to deplore the drunkenness she 
had witnessed at the Depot, and the seeming indifference of 
the staff to it. And yet, as her experience had shown, the 
men were quickly susceptible to better influences. , " We 
have established a reading-room for convalescents, which is 
well attended ; and the conduct of the soldiers is uniformly 
good. I believe that we have been the most efficient means 
of restoring discipline instead of destroying it, as I have 
been accused of. They are much more respectful to me 
than they are to their own officers. But it makes me cry 
to think that all these 6 months we might have had a 
trained schoolmaster, and that I was told it was quite 
impossible ; that in the Indian army effectual and successful 
measures are taken to prevent intoxication and disorganization, 
and that here the Convalescents are brought in emphatically 
dead drunk (for they die of it), and officers look on with 

^ In continuation of the letter quoted above, p. 255. 


composure and say to me, ' You are spoiling the brutes.'j 
The men are so glad to read, so glad to give their money. "^ 
This passage serves to introduce us to a side of Miss Nightin- 
gale's work which occupied much of her thoughts and activi- 
ties during the latter portion of her sojourn in the East. Her 
work in tending the sick bodies of the soldiers is that which 
is best known, but her work in appealing to their moral and 
mental nature was not less admirable, and hardly less novel. 
A high authority, who had been through the war, said of 
her at the time, " She has taught officers and officials to 
treat the soldiers as Christian men." Not every officer 
needed thus to be lessoned, but Miss Nightingale's example, 
and the practical experiments which directly or indirectly 
she set on foot during the Crimean War, did much to human- 
ize the British Army, She deserves to be remembered as 
the Soldiers' Friend no less than as the Ministering Angel. 

Miss Nightingale, like all moral and social reformers, 
believed in the nobility of human nature. She had seen in 
the hospital wards at Scutari, and in the trenches before 
Sebastopol, the heroism of which the common soldier was 
capable. She refused to believe that the vices to which 
he was prone were inherent in his nature. " I have never 
been able to join," she wrote to Lady Verney from Scutari 
(March 1856), "in the popular cry about the recklessness, 
sensuality, and helplessness of the soldiers. On the contrary 
I should say (and perhaps few women have ever seen more of 
the manufacturing and agricultural classes of England than 
I have before I came out here) that I have never seen so 
teachable and helpful a class as the Army generally. Give 
them opportunity promptly and securely to send money 
home and they wall use it. Give them schools and lectures 
and they will come to them. Give them books and games 
and amusements and they will leave off drinking. Give 
them suffering and they will bear it. Give them work and 
they will do it. I had rather have to do with the Army 
generally than with any other class I have ever attempted to 
serve." It was a common belief of the time that it was in the 
nature of the British soldier to be drunken. The same idea 
was entertained of the British nurse. ^ She utterly refused 

^ See above, p. 273. 


to believe it, and she set herself, in her determined and 
resourceful way, to put measures of reform into practice. 


Miss Nightingale, as I have already explained (p. 215), 
had the ear of the Court, and she took an opportunity of 
laying her views before the Queen. The immediate sequel 
is told in a letter from Lord Granville to Lord Canning : — 

Dec. 21 [1855]. In the Cabinet an interesting letter was read 
from Miss Nightingale thanking the Queen for a handsome present, 
and discussing the causes and remedies for the drunkenness in the 
army. Pam thought it excellent. Clarendon said it was full 
of real stuff, but Mars said it only showed that she knew nothing 
of the British soldier. ^ 

But Lord Panmure, though a believer in the original sin 
of the soldier, was moved none the less by the forces thus 
set in motion to sanction some useful measures of reform. 
Miss Nightingale, however, had not waited for oihcial action. 
That was never her way. When she wanted a thing done, 
she showed on such scale as was possible to her how to do it. 

Her first endeavour was to help and encourage the 
soldiers in sending home a portion at least of their pay. She 
formed an extempore Money Order Office, in which, on four 
afternoons in each month, she received the money of any 
soldier who desired to send it home to his family. About 
£1000 was thus received monthly in small sums, which, by 
post-office orders obtained in England, were transmitted to 
their several recipients. Her uncle, Mr. Samuel Smith, 
undertook the English agency for her. After the Cabinet 
Council, just described. Lord Panmure wrote to the Com- 
mander of the Forces in the Crimea, adverting to Miss 
Nightingale's " cry," and remarking that if a soldier wanted 
to send money home he could do so through the Paymaster, 
but adding that it had been decided to increase the facilities. 
In the following month (January 1856) the Government 
accepted the hint of Miss Nightingale's private initiative 
and established offices for money orders at Constantinople, 

^ Lord Fitzmaurice's Life of the Second Earl Granville, vol. i. p. 133. 


Scutari, Balaclava, and " Headquarters, Crimea." " It will 
do no good," wrote " Mars," convinced against his will ; 
" the soldier is not a remitting animal." ^ But in fact, 
during the following six months, a sum of £71,000 was sent 
home.2 Miss Nightingale felt much satisfaction in having 
been the means of " rescuing this money from the canteen." 
She was instrumental also in establishing a rival house, 
named, after a soldiers' battle, the " Inkerman Cafe." This 
was pleasantly situated close to the shore of the Bosphorus, 
midway between the main hospitals at Scutari. Miss 
Nightingale devoted much attention to the details of this 
coffee-house, and framed the list of prices. In all such 
work for the good of the soldiers, she found a cordial sup- 
porter in Sir Henry Storks, who had succeeded Lord William 
Paulet in the command at Scutari in the latter part of 1855. 
Sir Henry agreed with her, as he wrote, " that drunkenness 
can be made the exception, not the rule, in the Army " ; 
and in later years he referred in grateful recollection to the 
time when " we served together at Scutari." 

Her personal influence with the men was great. " I 
promised Her I would not drink," or " I promised Her to 
send my money home," they would say, " in such a tone," 
as Mr. Stafford recorded, " as if it were ingrained in the very 
stuff of them." A curious and, as I think the reader will 
agree with me, a pretty illustration of this side of Miss 
Nightingale's work, was brought under my notice during 
the preparation of this Memoir. On January 23, 1856, Miss 
Nighcingale wrote the following letter from Scutari to the 
Rev. R. Glover, then Chaplain to the Forces at Maidstone : — 

In reply to yours of Jan. 10 — I have the pleasure to inform 
you that I have just seen Thomas Whybron, 12th Lancers, and 
that he has promised me that he will not only write to his wife, 
but transmit money to her through me after ist of next month, 
when he will receive his pay. I trust he will keep his word. 
She had better also write to him herself, and send her letter 
through me. He tells me that he has had one letter from her. 
However he is well, but he has been in debt. However he 
sends his wife a kind message of love, which he begs me to give 
her through you, and to beg that she will not come out here. I 

^ Panmure, vol. ii. p. 28. ^ Statement, p. v. 


am myself of this opinion. Independently of the fact that, at 
tliis moment, I could not possibly receive any more nurses, 
there are many reasons against bringing out more soldiers' wives 
here, which you will readily apprehend. With regard to the 
Regiment, I consider the 12th Lancers the most " respectable " 
Regiment we have. They send home more money and put it 
to better uses than all the other Regiments here put together. 
And I hope that Whybron will improve in it. 

In January 1912 Lieutenant -Colonel Clifton Brown, 
commanding the 12th Royal Lancers, then quartered at 
Potchefstroom in the Transvaal, bought the original of this 
letter, " beautifully written, not a blot or a scratch in it," 
framed it with glass on both sides, and presented it to his 
regiment. Thus may an echo of Miss Nightingale's care for 
the British soldier and pride in his good name roll from soul 
to soul, and grow for ever and for ever. 


Then Miss Nightingale set herself to establish and equip 
reading-rooms and class-rooms. She took measures to let 
her schemes be made known in England, and the popularity 
of the heroine led to a speedy and generous response from 
all classes — from the Royal Family to the humblest printer's 
boy. Miss Nightingale's relations at home received, and 
transmitted to her, the gifts. Her cousin, Mr. Henry 
Bonham Carter, was especially useful. " Harry Carter," 
she wrote (Jan. 6, 1856), " must be a man of business ; for I 
can assure you that the boxes he sent me are the only ones 
which have not lost me hours of unnecessary labour, because 
he has given me invoices of the contents of each box and 
bills of lading." Her sister was receiver-general, and from 
Lady Verney's letters we obtain a lively account of the 
work : — 

{To Miss Ellen Toilet.) [Nov. 1855.] I don't know whether 
Mrs. Milnes told you how hard we worked to send off boxes for 
F.'s education of the army ! let me tell you, Ma'am, to instruct 
50,000 men is no joke. Seriously tho', my love, it is small things 
any one can do amid such a mass, which made one the more 
anxious to enable her to do what she could, and we have sent a dose 
of 1000 copybooks, writing materials in proportion, Diagrams, 


Maps, books illustrated and other. Macbeth (6) to read 6 at a 
time, and the music in the interludes, which Mr. Best (a pattern 
man whom I love more even than the Dean of H.) recommended 
as having been successful in his village. Chess, Footballs, other 
games, a magic Lanthem for Dissolving views, a Stereoscope (very 
fine !), plays for acting, music, &c. &c. Finally I thought a little 
art would be advisable, and had a number of prints stretched and 
varnished which are to be my subscription towards the improve- 
ment of the British army ! 

But, my dear, you can't conceive how pretty the sort of help 
is that everybody poured in ; the P. & O. says, nothing is to be 
paid. Miss N.'s things all go free. 

{To Florence Nightingale.) [Nov. 16, 1855.] Please, my dear, 
acknowledge a print which the Queen sends you for the soldiers. 
She heard thro' Lady Augusta Bruce that you had asked 
for one of her for the " Inkerman Cafe " ; and she accordingly 
sends you the one of the Duke of Wellington presenting May 
flowers to the httle Prince Arthur his godson ; which is very 
pretty of her, for it combines so many things. It is sent to you 
to do what you like with, so I have said you most hkely will wish 
to have it at Balaclava for your Reading Room plans. We have 
been racking our brains to get together amusing things for your 
men. ... To mitigate the science I have slipped in the Madonna 
of the Sedia ; which, my love, is domestic, if you please, not 
Popish. The Duchess of Kent sends a capital lot of books ; she 
has been so pleased to be of use. 

Both in the Crimea and at Scutari Miss Nightingale 
carried on, as opportunity offered, w^hat her sister laughingly 
called " the education of the British Army." But it was at 
Scutari, where she principally stayed, that the effort took 
the largest scope. Outside the Barrack Hospital a building 
was bought by Sir Henry Storks, on behalf of the Govern- 
ment, to provide a reading-room and a school-room. The 
reading-room, opened in January 1856, was supplied by 
Miss Nightingale with books, prints, maps, games, and 
newspapers. The other room was used as a garrison school ; 
two schoolmasters were sent out ; and evening lectures and 
classes were given. A second school was conducted in a hut 
between the two large hospitals at Scutari. ^ For the con- 
valescents. Miss Nightingale had at an earlier date estab- 

1 I take these particulars from a Memorandum, found among Miss 
Nightingale's papers, by the Rev. J. E. Sabin, Senior Chaplain at Scutari. 


lished reading-huts in the Barrack Hospital, furnishing them 
with books, newspapers, writing materials, prints, and 
games. In all the reading-huts the men attended numer- 
ously and constantly, their behaviour when there being. 
Miss Nightingale added, uniformly quiet and well-bred. 
The good manners, no less than the uncomplaining heroism 
of the common soldier, made an indelible impression upon 
the Lady-in-Chief. 

It was out of her experiences in the Crimean War that 
grew her love for the British soldier, to whose health, care, 
and comfort, at home and in India, she was to devote many 
years of her long life. In extreme old age, when failing 
powers were not equally alert to every call, she would some- 
times, I have been told, show listlessness if her companion 
talked of nurses or nursing, but the old light would ever 
come into her eye, and the faltering mind would instantly 
stand at attention, upon the slightest reference to the British 



(September 1855-July 1856) 

I am ready to stand out the War with any man. — Florence Nightin- 
gale (Nov. 4, 1855). 

On September 8, 1855, Sebastopol fell, after assaults, as 
every one remembers, which had filled the British cemeteries 
and hospitals. Miss Nightingale's time from this date to 
the end of the war was divided between the Crimea and 
Scutari. On October 9, 1855, she left Scutari for Balaclava, 
and she remained in the Crimea till the end of November, 
when she hurried back to Scutari on hearing of a serious 
outbreak of cholera in the Barrack Hospital at that place. 
On Good Friday, 1856 (March 21), she again left Scutari for 
Balaclava, in consequence of an urgent appeal from the 
hospitals of the Land Transport Corps, and she remained 
there till the beginning of July. She left Scutari for England 
on July 28. 

Miss Nightingale's work during her second and third 
visits to the Crimea (of two months in 1855, and of three in 
1856) was the most arduous, and in some respects the most 
worrying, of all her labours in the East. The distances 
between the several Crimean hospitals, enumerated in an 
earlier chapter (p. 254), were great ; how bad were the roads 
is known to every one who has read anything about the 
Crimean War ; and Miss Nightingale experienced much of 
the rigour of a Crimean winter. " The extraordinary exer- 
tions she imposed upon herself would have been perfectly 
incredible," wrote M. Soyer, " if they had not been witnessed 



by many. I can vouch for the fact, having frequently 
accompanied her to the [Castle] Hospital as well as to the 
Monastery. The return from these places at night was a 
very dangerous experience, as the road led across a very 
uneven country. It was still more perilous when snow was 
upon the ground, I have seen her stand for hours at the 
top of a bleak rocky mountain near the Hospital, giving her 
instructions while the snow was falling heavily." She had 
for some years been somewhat subject to rheumatism, 
and in the Crimea she was at times tortured by sciatica. 
But she was " acclimatised," she said, and was strong to 
endure. Sometimes she spent long days in the saddle. 
At other times she drove in a rough cart. Her first con- 
veyance was a cart — drawn by a mule and driven, adds 
the lively Soyer, by a donkey ; and she suffered a nasty 
upset in it. Colonel McMurdo, Commandant of the Land 
Transport Corps, ^ then kindly gave her the best vehicle 
procurable. It has been dignified by the name of " Miss 
Nightingale's Carriage," but was, in fact, a hooded 
baggage-car without springs.^ Some time later M. Soyer 
identified the vehicle among other " Crimean effects " 
which were on sale at Southampton. It was shown at the 
Victorian Era Exhibition forty years later,^ and is still pre- 
served at Lea Hurst. 

In this hooded vehicle, or on horseback, or if the roads 
were very bad on foot, Miss Nightingale made her rounds in 
all weathers, her headquarters being sometimes at the General 
and sometimes at the Castle Hospital. She never presumed 
on her sex to save herself trouble or fatigue at the expense 
of others. She was now without Mr. Bracebridge's assist- 
ance, but she found that the absence of a civilian go-between 
was no disadvantage. " A woman," she said, " obtains 
from military courtesy (if she does not shock either their 
habits of business or their caste prejudices) what a man 
who pitted the civilian against the military effectually 

1 Sir William Montagu Scott McMurdo (1819-94) : K.C.B. 1881. 
Miss Nightingale had a very high opinion of his services in the Crimea, and 
Sidney Herbert appointed him Inspector-General of the Volunteers (see 
Miss Nightingale's Letter on the Volunteers, 1861). 

* A woodcut of it appeared in the Illustrated London News, August 30, 

^ See Vol. II. p. 409. 


hindered." She superintended the nursing in all the 
hospitals under her orders. Of the hospital huts on the 
Genoese Heights, there is a vivid picture in Lady Hornby's 
Travels. " The first day of our arrival," she wrote. May 
1856, " we took a long ramble on the heights of Balaclava, 
by the old Genoese castle. On one side is a solitary and 
magnificent view of sea and cliffs ; but pass a sharp and lofty 
turning, and the crowded port beneath, and all the active 
military movements, are instantly before your eyes. Higher 
up we came to Miss Nightingale's hospital huts, built of 
long planks, and adorned with neatly bordering flowers. 
The sea was glistening before us, and as we lingered to ad- 
mire the fine view, one of the nurses, a kind, motherly-looking 
woman, came into the little porch, and invited us to enter 
and rest. A wooden stool was kindly offered to us by 
another and younger Sister. On the large deal table was 
a simple pot of wild flowers, so beautifully arranged, they 
instantly struck my eye. How charming the little deal 
house appeared to me, with its perfect cleanliness, its glori- 
ous view, and the health, contentment, and usefulness of its 
inmates ! How respectable their few wants seemed ; how 
suited their simple dress to the stern realities, as well as to 
the charities of life, and how fearlessly they reposed on the 
care and love of God in that lonely place, far away from all 
their friends ; how earnestly they admired and tended the 
few spring flowers of a strange land,^ these brave, quiet 
women, who had witnessed and helped to relieve so much 
suffering ! This was the pleasantest visit I ever made. Miss 
Nightingale had been there but a few days before, and 
this deal room and stool were hers." ^ Miss Nightingale 
established reading-rooms, bored for water to improve the 
supply near the hospitals, had the huts covered with felt 
for protection against the winter, and brought her extra- 
diet kitchens, with M. Soyer's good help, into full efficiency. 
In her absence the work had met with many difficulties 
from the supineness or hostility of officials towards what 
some regarded as her fads, and others as her interference. 
"In April," she wrote to Mrs. Herbert from the Castle 

^ For another reference to the Crimean flowers, see below, p. 450. 
" Hornby, pp. 306-7. 


Hospital (Nov. 17, 1855), " I undertook this Hospital, and 
from that time to this we cooked all the Extra Diet for 500 
to 600 patients, and the whole diet for all the wounded 
officers by ourselves in a shed ; and though I sent up a 
French cook in July to whom I gave £100 a year, I could not 
get an Extra Diet Kitchen built, promised me in May, till 
I came up this time to do it myself in October. During the 
whole of this time, every Qg^, every bit of butter, jelly, ale, 
and Eau de Cologne which the sick officers have had has 
been provided out of Mrs. Samuel Smith's or my private 
pocket. On Nov. 4 I opened my Extra Diet Kitchen." 


Miss Nightingale's work in the Crimea was attended by 
ceaseless worry. She had to fight her way into full authority. 
She knew that she would win, but her enemies were active, 
and were for the moment in possession of the field. " There 
is not an official," she said, " who would not burn me like 
Joan of Arc if he could, but they know that the War Office 
cannot turn me out because the country is with me." She 
was beset with jealousies in the Crimea, both in military and 
in medical quarters ; and to make matters worse, religious, 
and even racial animosities mixed themselves up in the 
disputes. Lord Raglan, who believed in her and always 
supported her, was now dead ; and by some strange omis- 
sion, the instructions which had been sent to him from 
London at the time of her original appointment were un- 
known to his successors in the command. The words in the 
published instructions — " in Turkey " — gave a sort of tech- 
nical excuse (as already mentioned) to jealous officials for 
regarding Miss Nightingale as an interloper in the Crimea. 
The point, however, had no substance ; for there was a 
female nursing establishment already in the Crimea, which 
had received no separate or independent instructions, and 
which was yet supported by Government. By what 
authority could it be there, except as delegated from the 
Lady Superintendent in Chief ? But the intrusion of Miss 
Nightingale was, I suppose, resented by some military 
officers the more at Balaclava than at Scutari, in proportion 


as the scene was nearer to the front ; how keen the resent- 
ment was, we have heard from Colonel Sterling, And as 
Headquarters were unsympathetic also, Miss Nightingale 
had an uphill task. " We get things done all the same," 
she wrote to Mrs. Herbert, " only a little more slowly. 
When we have support at Headquarters matters advance 
faster, that is all. The real grievance against us is that, 
though subordinate to the Medical Chiefs in Ofhce, we are 
superior to them in influence and in the chance of being heard 
at home. It is an anomaly, but so is war in England." 
There had been in England no due provision for all the 
needs of the war. Miss Nightingale, seeing things that 
needed to be done, preferred to get them done by anomalous 
means rather than that by rule they should not be done at 

That her analysis of the situation correctly explains 
the jealousy and opposition of the Medical Chiefs in Office 
may be gathered from their correspondence. The personal 
situation in the Crimea had not been eased by the statements 
of Mr. Bracebridge, already mentioned (p. 213). On his 
return home, he had not only extolled Miss Nightingale, 
but had made severe strictures upon the whole medical 
service in the East. His speech, delivered at a public 
meeting, was reported very fully in the Times (Oct. 16, 
1855). Miss Nightingale was doubtless suspected of com- 
plicity in this attack ; but in fact she was innocent, and she 
was quite as angry as were the doctors when she saw the 
repori. Mr. Bracebridge was her friend, but truth and 
expediency were greater friends ; and she proceeded to 
give Mr. Bracebridge a trenchant piece of her mind (Nov. 
4). She objected to his speech : " First, because it is not 
our business, and I have expressly denied being a medical 
officer, and rejected all applications both of medical men and 
quacks to have their systems examined ^ ; secondly, because 
it justifies all the attacks made against us for unwarrantable 
interference and criticism ; and, thirdly, because I believe 
it to be utterly unfair." And she proceeded in much detail 
to defend the doctors against Mr. Bracebridge's aspersions. 
His indiscretion doubtless raised prejudice in medical 

^ There are applications of the kind among Miss Nightingale's papers. 


quarters against Miss Nightingale ; but there were other 
and deeper causes at work. Dr. Hall, the Principal Medical 
Officer in the Crimea, was, in some sort, the person most 
responsible, individually, for the state of things which had 
stirred so much outcry in England ; and Mr. Sidney Herbert 
at a very early stage had put his finger on Dr. Hall's touchy 
spot. " I cannot help feeling," he had written to Lord 
Raglan in December 1854, " that Dr. Hall resents offers 
of assistance as being slurs on his preparations." ^ Dr. 
Hall wrote fiercely about " a system of detraction 
against our establishments kept up by interested parties 
under the garb of philanthropy." Some became detractors, 
he went on, " to make their mission of importance, and they 
wish the world to believe that all the ameliorations in our 
institutions are entirely owing to their own exertions or 
those of a few nurses ; and I am sorry to say some of our 
own department have pandered to this, and have been 
rewarded for it." Miss Nightingale's remark upon this 
tirade was characteristic : " One is tempted to ask, have 
no others been rewarded who have nothing to show for the 
result of this same boasted hospital system, but the wreck 
of an Army, which they did not advise even the most ordi- 
nary precautions (as to diet and clothing) to prevent, and 
the graves at Scutari." ^ To me, after much reading of 
the documents, it seems that Dr. Hall was the victim of a 
false position. He had been appointed Medical Inspector- 
General in the Crimea when he was still in India, and he did 
not arrive on the scene in time to think out the preparations 
properly. Miss Nightingale never allowed personal feeling 
to affect the impartiality of her judgments. Dr. Hall 
disputed her authority and resented her interference. She 
fought him, and in the end she beat him ; but there are 
passages in her letters which bear testimony to his good 
services and high capacity in many respects. Nor were 
their personal relations unfriendly ; but she saw in him 
throughout an antagonist influence. The Deputy Pur- 
veyor-in-Chief, Mr. David Fitz-Gerald, regarded her coming 

1 Stanmore, vol. i. p. 369. 

- Notes, vol. i. sec. i. pp. xxiv.-v. In a private letter Miss Nightin- 
gale's irony was more bitter. " K.C.B." meant, she supposed, " Knight 
of the Crimean Burial-grounds." 


to the Crimea with equal, or greater, suspicion and dishke, 
and he sent home to the War Office a Confidential Report, 
criticizing the female nursing establishment, and making 
out an argumentative case against the desirability of sanc- 
tioning Miss Nightingale's claim to be the Lady Superior 
of the Crimean nurses. Miss Nightingale had been shown 
these reports by a friend, and she was angry at what she 
considered a campaign of secret hostility against her. 

To add to the mischief, the professional difficulty (as I 
may call it) became entangled with the religious difficulty. 
Some of the nuns who had previously been assigned to the 
hospitals at Koulali, proceeded in October 1855, at Dr. 
Hall's instance, to the General Hospital at Balaclava. This 
was naturally regarded by Miss Nightingale as an act of 
usurpation upon her authority ; it gave an undue propor- 
tion of Roman Catholics to a particular hospital ; and, 
moreover, she did not consider these particular ladies, 
or their Reverend Mother, Mrs. Bridgeman, wholly 
efficient. They were most devoted and self-sacrificing, and 
their spiritual ministrations were admirable, but as nurses 
and administrators she thought less highly of them. Mr. 
Fitz-Gerald, on the other hand, was strongly prepossessed, 
as independent observers thought, in their favour. As ill- 
luck would have it, these ladies were for the most part Irish, 
and the matter was made to assume the aspect of a racial- 
religious feud. People who could not understand Miss 
Nightingale's single-minded devotion to efficient and busi- 
ness-like administration supposed that she was actuated 
by prejudice. Dr. Hall was not moved by any such sus- 
picion ; but the ladies, whom Miss Nightingale regarded as 
not among the more efficient of her staff of nurses, were his 
nominees, and he strongly backed them. There was a 
somewhat similar dispute about another transference of 
nurses in the Crimea made without Miss Nightingale's 
sanction ; and some of the women, taking their cue from 
their superiors, were inclined to question and flout her 
authority. " I don't know what she wants here," said one, 
when the Lady Superintendent appeared on the scene. ^ 

^ The Autobiography of a Balaclava Nurse, vol. ii. p. 163. 



All this controversy raised Miss Nightingale's vexation 
to white heat. On January 7, 1856, she wrote an official 
letter to the War Office, complaining of the encroachment 
on her department by the Medical Officer. In semi-private 
letters to Mr. Sidney Herbert (Feb. 20, 21, 1856) she formu- 
lated her grievances. Dr. Hall was " attempting to root 
her out of the Crimea." Other officials were traducing her 
behind her back. The War Office was not adequately 
supporting her. "It is profuse," she said, "in tinsel and 
empty praise which I do not want, and does not give me 
the real business-like efficient standing which I do want." 
She begged Mr. Herbert to move in the House of Commons 
for the production of correspondence, so that the public 
might be able to judge between her and those who were 
traducing her, and striving to thwart her work. Mr. 
Herbert, in a reply ^ marked alike by good sense and good 
feeling, ventured " to criticize and to scold " his friend. 
" You have been overdone," he said, " with your long, 
anxious, harassing work. You see jealousies and meannesses 
all round you. You hear of one-sided, unfair, and unjust 
reports made of your proceedings and of those under you. 
But you over-rate their importance, you attribute too much 
motive to them, and you write upon them with an irritation 
and vehemence which detracts very much from the weight 
which would attach to what you say." There are letters 
to show that this was the opinion also of the more sagacious 
among Miss Nightingale's nearest friends. To move for 
papers would, Mr. Herbert added, be very injudicious. There 
was no public attack, and the publication of papers would 
call needless attention to disputes. The answers to her 
critics, which she had sent home, appeared to Mr. Herbert 
to be complete, and he understood that the War Office so 
considered them. Moreover the Secretary of State was 
about to issue orders which would clear up Miss Nightingale's 
position once and for all. And her own letters, though 
conclusive as to the facts, had in their tone done herself 
" less than justice." 

^ Printed in extenso in Stanmore, vol. i. pp. 416-420. 


All this was excellent advice, and Miss Nightingale took 
it in good part, but not, in a phrase now sanctioned in high 
politics, " lying down." She replied at great length and 
with full vigour. The gist of her letter was that it was 
easy to be calm and " statesmanlike " at a distance, but 
difficult not to be angry and downright when you were on 
the spot finding your work for the sick and wounded ham- 
pered at every turn. She had been criticized, among other 
things, for interference in the Purveyor's sphere. Her 
reply to Mr. Herbert on this point is decidedly effective, 
and incidentally throws light on the hardness of her life 
in the Crimea. Happily, she said, she had brought with her 
adequate supplies for herself and her staff. If she had not, 
they would have been in danger of starvation : — 

{Miss Nightingale to Sidney Herbert.) Crimea, April 4 [1856]. 
I arrived here March 24 with Nurses for the two Land Transport 
Hospitals required by Dr. Hall in writing on March 10.^ We 
have now been ten days without rations. Lord Cardigan was 
surprised to find his horses die at the end of a fortnight because 
they were without rations, and said that they " chose " to do 
it, obstinate brutes ! The Inspector -General and Purveyors 
wish to see whether women can live as long as horses without 
rations. I thank God my charge has felt neither cold nor hunger 
(and is in efficient working order, having cooked and administered 
in both Hospitals the whole of the extras for 260 bad cases 
ever since the first day of their arrival). I have, however, felt 
both. I do not wish to make a martyr of myself ; within sight 
of the graves of the Crimean Army of last winter (too soon for- 
gotten in England), it would be difficult to do so. I am glad to 
have had the experience. For cold and hunger wonderfully 
sharpen the wits. . . . During these ten days I have fed and 
warmed these women at my own private expense by my own 
private exertions. I have never been off my horse till 9 or 10 at 
night, except when it was too dark to walk home over these crags 
even with a lantern, when I have gone on foot. During the greater 
part of the day I have been without food necessarily, except a 
little brandy and water (you see I am taking to drinking like my 
comrades of the Army). But the object of my coming has been 
attained, and my women have neither starved nor suffered. 

The memory of the petty persecution to which she was 
subjected by hostile and jealous officials in the Crimea 

^ The letter is printed in Hall, p. 451. 


never faded from Miss Nightingale's mind. A reference to 
it will be found in a much later chapter,^ and she often 
mentioned it in her notes and letters. But, though she 
fought the officials hard, she never showed temper in public, 
and she did not allow either the obstruction itself or her 
vexation at it to impede her work. She had come to the 
Crimea prepared, and her private stores sufficed to feed her 
staff till official obstruction was removed ; whilst as for her 
vexation, she was careful not to show it lest her work should 

Meanwhile a dispatch was already on its way from the 
War Department, which gave to Miss Nightingale the full 
support for which she had asked. The dispatch was not 
settled, however, without a stiff fight against it by sub- 
ordinates at the War Office, who sided with Sir John Hall 
and Mr. Fitz-Gerald. The curious in such matters may 
consult the minutes and counter-minutes upon Miss Nightin- 
gale's letter of protest preserved in the archives of the War 
Office. Lord Panmure, however, took her view. Even 
when the lines of the dispatch were settled in accordance 
with his instructions, protests were still made against a 
policy which, in supporting Miss Nightingale, would censure 
Dr. Hall, but the Minister was not moved. He had already, 
on November 5, 1855, written to Miss Nightingale herself, 
stating that Mrs. Bridgeman was not justified in acting as 
she had done.^ He now, on February 25, 1856, wrote to 
the Commander of the Forces directing that Dr. Hall's 
attention should be called to the irregularity of his proceed- 
ing in introducing nurses into a Hospital without previous 
communication with Miss Nightingale, and that the following 
statement should be issued : — 

The Secretary of State for War has addressed the following 
dispatch to the Commander of the Forces, with a desire that it 
should be promulgated in General Orders : "It appears to me 
that the Medical Authorities of the Army do not correctly com- 
prehend Miss Nightingale's position as it has been officially 
recognized by me. I therefore think it right to state to you 
briefly for their guidance, as well as for the information of the 
Army, what the position of that excellent lady is. Miss Night- 

1 Vol. II. p. 195. 2 See Hall, p. 438. 


ingale is recognized by Her Majesty's Government as the General 
Superintendent of the Female Nursing EstabUshment of the 
military hospitals of the Army. No lady, or sister, or nurse 
is to be transferred from one hospital to another, or introduced 
into any hospital, without consultation with her. Her instruc- 
tions, however, require to have the approval of the Principal 
Medical Officer in the exercise of the responsibiUty thus vested 
in her. The Principal Medical Officer will communicate with 
Miss Nightingale upon all subjects connected with the Female 
Nursing Establishment, and will give his directions through that 
lady." 1 

Miss Nightingale's strong feeling in this matter was not 
caused, as a hasty, prejudiced, or uncharitable judgment 
might suggest, by wounded amour propre. It was based 
on the conviction which experience had given her, that only 
by the strictest discipline exercised through properly con- 
stituted authority, could the experiment of female nursing 
in military hospitals be made successful. In the Confidential 
Reports which were sent to the War Office criticizing the 
experiment, advantage was taken of mistakes and misdeeds 
which Miss Nightingale felt that she might have prevented 
had she been armed earlier with explicit and plenary 

Armed with this full authority. Miss Nightingale pro- 
ceeded to make such transferences among the nurses as she 
deemed necessary in the cause of efficiency. She had no 
desire to remove Mrs. Bridgeman and the nuns ; she was 
anxious only to make some reforms in their administration, 
as she would now have express authority to do ; and she 
begged Mrs. Bridgeman to remain. Sir John Hall and the 
Deputy Purveyor-in-Chief, smarting under the War Office's 
edict, seem to have laid their heads together, and advised 
Mrs. Bridgeman to resign.^ " It must rest with you to 
decide," wrote Sir John, " whether you wish to remain 
subservient to the control of Miss Nightingale or not." She 
and her Sisterhood, resigning forthwith (March 28) , returned 
to England, and Miss Nightingale filled their places by 

1 Hall, p. 450. The text of the General Order as issued on March i6 
was printed in the Times of April i, 1856. 

2 See on tliis subject her Report to the Secretary of State, Subsidiary 
Notes, pp. I, 2. 

^ See the letters printed in Hall, p. 457. 


others of the staff. In her retrospect of the whole cam- 
paign, she regarded the spring of 1856 in the Crimea as one 
of the three periods when her nurses gave the greatest proof 
of their utihty.^ There was then great sickness among the 
Land Transport Corps, The other two periods were on 
the arrival of the wounded from Inkerman at Scutari 
(p. 181), and " during the heavy summer work of nursing 
the wounded at Balaclava in 1855." There is, I think, no 
memorial of Miss Nightingale in the Crimea. But on the 
heights above Balaclava, visible from a great distance at 
sea, is a tall marble cross, erected to the memory of the 
heroic dead, " and to those Sisters of Charity who had fallen 
in their service." The words engraved upon it are, " Lord, 
have mercy upon us." ^ 

Miss Nightingale was much exhausted by her labours 
in the Crimea, and, a few weeks before she left it for the last 
time, she wrote some testamentary dispositions which, in 
the event of her death, were to be handed to General Storks, 
in command at Scutari : "As you," she wrote to him (Bala- 
clava, May 3, 1856), " are of all those in office, whether at 
home or abroad, the officer who has given the most steady 
and consistent support to the work entrusted to me by Her 
Majesty's Government, I venture to appeal to you to continue 
that support after my death, and to carry out as far as 
possible my last requests." She expressed an " earnest 
desire " that Mrs. Shaw Stewart should be appointed to 
succeed her. She left messages of commendation and 
pecuniary gifts to the Reverend Mother of the Bermondsey 
Nuns, Sister Bertha Turnbull, and Mrs. Roberts : "To the 
Queen I beg humbly to restore the ' Order ' with which 
Her Majesty was pleased to decorate me. If she sees fit 
to return it to my family, it will be prized the more by them. 
I cannot express the support which the approbation of my 
Sovereign has been to me in all my trials. But I would 
assure Her that neither by word or thought or deed have I 
ever for one moment been unworthy of Her service or of the 

^ Notes, p. 158. 

^ It has often been stated that the cross was erected by Miss Nightin- 
gale, but this is not the case. The inscription v/as suggested by Mrs. 
Shaw Stewart. In 1863 a Maternity Charity was estabhshed at Con- 
stantinople " in honour of Florence Nightingale." 


charge entrusted to me by Her. I would wish the Com- 
mander of the Forces in the East, in restoring to Her this 
jewel, to assure Her of this." There were other requests, 
but her last thought was of the Army : "I would wish that 
I could have done something more to prove to the noble 
Army, whom I have so cared for, my respect and esteem. If 
the Commander of the Forces would put into General Orders 
a message of farewell from me, of remembrance of the time 
when we lived and suffered and worked together, I should be 
grateful to him." She was to be spared to render services 
to the British Army greater than any she had been able to 
render in the Crimea. 


At Scutari, during the last months of Miss Nightingale's 
sojourn (Nov. 1855-March 1856, and July 1856), her work 
was as continuous as in the Crimea. Her companions, Mr. 
and Mrs. Bracebridge, had returned to England in August 
1855, and their place was taken by Mrs. Samuel Smith. 
From her letters we get a glimpse of Florence's daily toil 
at Scutari. " Mine," wrote the aunt (Dec. 31, 1855), " is 
mere copying ; hers is perplexing brain-work. I go to bed 
at II ; she habitually writes till i or 2, sometimes till 3 or 
4 ; has in the last pressure given up 3 whole nights to it. 
We seldom get through even our little dinner (after it has 
been put off one, two, or three hours on account of her 
visitois), without her being called away from it. I never 
saw a greater picture of exhaustion than Flo last night at 
ten (Jan. 7). * Oh, do go to bed,' I said. ' How can I ; I 
have all those letters to write,' pointing to the divan covered 
with papers. ' Write them to-morrow.' ' To-morrow will 
bring its own work.' And she sat up the greater part of 
the night." But with all this pressure, there was no flurry. 
" Such questions as food, rest, temperature," wrote her 
aunt in another letter (Jan. 25, 1856), " never interfere with 
her during her work ; I suppose she has gained some ad- 
vantage over other people in her entire absence of thought 
about these things ; that is, her mind overtasked with great 
things has not these little questions to entertain. She is 


extremely quick and clear too, as you know, in her work. 
This I suppose has increased upon her, and she can turn from 
one thing or one person to another, when in the midst of 
business, in a most extraordinary manner. She has attained 
a most wonderful calm and presence of mind. She is, I 
think, often deeply impressed, and depressed, though she 
does not show it outwardly, but no irritation of temper, no 
hurry or confusion of manner, ever appears for a moment." 
Mrs, Smith's work was not only copying. Mrs. Brace- 
bridge had called herself " Boots," because she did all 
Florence's odd jobs, and to this part Mrs. Smith had suc- 
ceeded. " Aunt Mai," who had helped so greatly in Florence's 
struggle for independence, must have felt rewarded for her 
self-sacrifice in leaving husband, home, and children, by 
being able to stand at her niece's side through some part 
of the life of action. 

For Christmas Day (1855) Miss Nightingale accepted 
an invitation to the British Embassy, and another guest 
has drawn a picture of her on this occasion : — 

By the side of the Ambassadress was a tall, fashionable, 
haughty beauty. But the next instant my eye wandered to a 
lady modestly standing on the other side of Lady Stratford. 
At first I thought she was a nun, from her black dress and close 
cap. She was not introduced, and yet Edmund and I looked 
at each other at the same moment to whisper Miss Nightingale. 
Yes, it was Florence Nightingale, greatest of all now in name and 
honour among women. I assure you that I was glad not to be 
obHged to speak just then, for I felt quite dumb as I looked at her 
wasted figure and the short brown hair combed over her forehead 
like a child's, cut so when her life was despaired of from a fever 
but a short time ago. Her dress, as I have said, was black, made 
high to the throat, its only ornament being a large enamelled 
brooch, which looked to me like the colours of a regiment sur- 
mounted with a wreath of laurel, no doubt some graceful offering 
from our men. To hide the close white cap a little, she had tied 
a white crape handkerchief over the back of it, only allowing 
the border of lace to be seen ; and this gave the nun-like appear- 
ance which first struck me on her entering the room ; otherwise 
Miss Nightingale is by no means striking in appearance. Only 
her plain black dress, quiet manner and great renown told so 
powerfully altogether in that assembly of brilliant dress and 
uniforms. She is very slight, rather above the middle height ; 
her face is long and thin, but this may be from recent illness and 


great fatigue. She has a very prominent nose, shghtly Roman ; 
and small dark eyes, kind, yet penetrating ; but her face does not 
give you at all the idea of great talent. She looks a quiet, per- 
severing, orderly, lady-like woman. . . . She was still very weak, 
and could not join in the games, but she sat on a sofa, and looked 
on, laughing until the tears came into her eyes.^ 

It was during this latter portion of Miss Nightingale's 
sojourn at Scutari that she made a new friendship, which was 
of some importance to her work. In October 1855 Colonel 
Lefroy,^ confidential adviser on scientific matters to the 
Secretary for War, was sent out by Lord Panmure to report 
privately on the state of the hospitals. He formed a high 
opinion of Miss Nightingale's work and abilities, and a 
friendship with her then began which continued to the end 
of his life. Lord Panmure's confidence in her, and the full 
authority with w^hich, as already related (p. 292) , he invested 
her, were partly due to Colonel Lefroy's reports.^ At the 
time when the matter was under discussion, he had returned 
to his post at the War Office, and the papers were sent to 
him. His view of the case was the same as Miss Nightin- 
gale's, and he expressed it with a force inspired by his 
personal observation, alike of her services and of her diffi- 
culties. The medical men, he wrote in one minute, are 
jealous of her mission. " Dr. Hall would gladly upset it 
to-morrow." " A General Order," he wrote in another 
minute, " recognizing and defining her position would save 
her much annoyance and harassing correspondence. It is 
due, I think, to all she has done and has sacrificed. Among 
other reasons for it, it will put a stop to any spirit of growing 
independence among these ladies and nurses who are still 
under her, a spirit encouraged with no friendly intention in 
more than one quarter." For many years Colonel Lefroy 
was one of Miss Nightingale's most constant correspondents 
on subjects connected with military hospitals and nurses, 
and they often co-operated in schemes for the welfare of 

1 Letter from Lady Hornby to her sister Mrs. Vaillant, Jan. 5, 1856 ; 
Hornby, pp. 150, 152. The enamelled brooch was the Queen's jewel. 

^ John Henry Lefroy (1817-90), Lieut. R.A., 1837 ; engaged in a 
magnetical survey, 1839-42 ; F.R.S., 1848 ; at the War Office, 1854-57 ; 
inspector-general of army schools, 1857 ; afterwards governor successively 
of the Bermudas and Tasmania ; K.C.M.G., 1877. 

^ See a letter of Sidney Herbert printed in Stanmore, vol. i. p. 417. 


the soldiers. Colonel Lefroy's services to the army, both 
in scientific matters and in philanthropic directions, were 
long and distinguished. Miss Nightingale had detractors 
and opponents in the service ; but the more progressive 
an officer was, the more probably may he be included among 
her admirers and supporters. 



(July-August 1856) 

I love the people, 
But do notlike to stage me to their eyes. 
Though it do well, I do not relish well 
Their loud applause and aves vehement. 


Peace was signed at Paris on March 30, 1856 ; but there 
was still work to be done in the Crimean hospitals, and Miss 
Nightingale remained at Balaclava, as we have seen, till 
the beginning of July. On her return to Scutari she was 
occupied in winding up the affairs of her mission. Mean- 
while the nurses were already beginning to go home. The 
Reverend Mother (Moore), who had come out from Ber- 
mondsey with the first party, left the East at the end of 
April. She had been throughout one of the mainstays of 
Miss Nightingale, who wrote to her thus from Balaclava 
(April 29) : " God's blessing and my love and gratitude 
with you, as you well know. You know well too that I shall 
do everything I can for the Sisters whom you have left me. 
But it will not be like you. Your wishes will be our law. 
And I shall try and remain in the Crimea for their sakes as 
long as we are any of us there. I do not presume to express 
praise or gratitude to you, Revd. Mother, because it would 
look as if I thought you had done the work not unto God 
but unto me. You were far above me in fitness for the 
General Superintendency, both in worldly talent of adminis- 
tration, and far more in the spiritual qualifications which 
God values in a Superior. My being placed over you in an 
unenviable reign in the East was my misfortune and not my 



fault." Another of those whom Miss Nightingale described 
as her mainstays was Mrs. Shaw Stewart, who served in the 
Crimea as Superintendent of the nurses, successively in the 
" General " and in the " Castle " Hospital, and of her Miss 
Nightingale wrote in terms of similarly grateful fervour. 
I quote a few of these appreciations (and many more might 
be added), because it has been supposed, on the strength 
of isolated expressions penned in moments of vexation or 
despondency, that Miss Nightingale was ungenerous in 
recognition of the work of others.^ Nothing could be 
further from the fact. She was, it is true, unsparing in 
blame wherever she saw, or thought she saw, incompetence, 
or unfaithfulness, or a lack of single -mindedness ; she 
was also impatient of opposition ; and hers was not 
one of those soft natures which readily forget and forgive. 
But wherever efficiency and faithful zeal were to be 
found, she was quick to recognize them, and she was as 
unstinted in praise as in blame. Of Mrs. Shaw Stewart, 
she wrote to Lady Cranworth (who had succeeded Lady 
Canning in good offices towards the nurses) : " Without her 
our Crimean work would have come to grief — without her 
judgment, her devotion, her unselfish, consistent looking 
to the one great end, viz. the carrying out the work as a 
whole — without her untiring zeal, her watchful care of the 
nurses, her accuracy in all trusts and accounts, her truth, 
her faithfulness. Her praise and her reward are in higher 
hands than mine." Of the same " noble, brave " lady. 
Miss Nightingale had written to Mrs. Bracebridge (Nov. 4, 
1855) : " Faithfulness is so eminently her, that I hear her 
Master saying. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I 
will make thee ruler over many things." I could multiply 
Miss Nightingale's praises of her fellow-workers, for of every 
one of them she sent home to Lady Cranworth a terse 
character-sketch. This was done mainly for the sake of 
the professional nurses, in order that they might be helped 
to find suitable situations on their return. The sketches 
show how close a touch the Lady-in-Chief kept upon her 
staff, and they reveal no reluctance either to criticize or to 
praise. It would be invidious to particularize further than 

^ Stanmore, vol. i. pp. 404-5. 


to cite Miss Nightingale's appreciation of her third mainstay, 
Mrs. Roberts, who came out as a paid nurse with her in 
October 1854, and served throughout the war : " Having 
been 23 years Sister in St. Thomas's Hospital, her qualifica- 
tions as a nurse were, of course, infinitely superior to any 
other of those with me. She is indeed a surgical nurse of 
the first order. Her valuable services have been recognized 
even and most of all by the surgeons (of Scutari, where she 
has principally been and where, after Inkerman, her exer- 
tions were unremitting) . Her total superiority to all the vices 
of a Hospital Nurse, her faithfulness to the work, her dis- 
interested love of duty and vigilant care of her patients, her 
power of work equal to that of ten, have made her one of the 
most important persons of the expedition." 


On June 3 the Secretary of State wrote to Miss Nightin- 
gale, " as the period is now fast approaching when your 
generous and disinterested labours will cease, with the 
occasion which called them forth," to inquire what arrange- 
ments should be made for her return. " In thus contem- 
plating," he continued, " the close of those anxious and 
trying duties, which you imposed upon yourself solely 
with a view to alleviate the sufferings of Her Majesty's 
Army in the East, and which you have accomplished with 
a singleness of purpose beyond all praise, it is not necessary 
foi me to inform you how highly Her Majesty appreciates 
the services you have rendered to Her Army ; as Her 
Majesty has already conveyed to you a signal proof of Her 
gracious approbation. But I desire now, on behalf of my 
colleagues and myself, to offer you our most cordial thanks 
for your humane and generous exertions. In doing so, 
I feel confident that I simply express the unanimous feelings 
of the people of this country." 

There were things which Miss Nightingale valued 
more highly than the approbation of the people. One 
of them was correctly surmised by Sir Henry Storks. 
Writing to her from Headquarters at Scutari, on July 25, 
he said : — 


I have received your kind note with mingled feehngs of 
extreme pleasure and regret — the former, because I appreciate 
your good opinion very highly ; the latter, because your note 
is a Farewell. It will ever be to me a source of pride and gratifica- 
tion to have been associated with you in the work which you 
have performed with so much devotion and with so much courage. 
Amidst the acknowledgments you have received from all classes, 
and from many quarters, I feel persuaded there are none more 
pleasing to yourself than the grateful recognition of the poor 
men you came to succour and to save. You will ever live in 
their remembrance, be assured of that ; for amongst the faults 
and vices, which ignorance has produced, and a bad system has 
fostered and matured, ingratitude is not one of the defects of the 
British soldier. I indulge the hope that you will permit me 
hereafter to continue an acquaintance (may I say friendship ?) 
which I highly value and appreciate. 

The gratitude of the British soldier was very dear to Miss 
Nightingale, and the disposition which she ultimately made 
of her Crimean decorations was characteristic. Before she 
left the East, the Sultan had presented her with a diamond 
bracelet and a sum of money for the nurses and hospitals, 
both of which presents the Queen permitted her to accept. ^ 
The bracelet, with the badge given by the Queen, may be 
seen to-day in the Museum of the United Service Institution, 
placed there in accordance with her desire that they should 
be deposited " where the soldiers could see them." 

At length it was time for Miss Nightingale, having seen 
off the last of her nurses, and filed the last of her inventories 
and accounts, to leave also. The Government had offered 
her a British man-of-war for the voyage home. The view 
she was likely to take of such a proposal had been correctly 
surmised in the House of Lords some weeks before. On 
May 5 Lord Ellesmere moved the Address on the conclusion 
of peace. He was something of a poet, as well as a states- 
man, and this w^as his last appearance in the House. In a 
speech, which was much admired at the time, and which 
may still be read with pleasure as a specimen of the more 
ornate kind of parliamentary eloquence, he paid a tribute 
to the memory of Lord Raglan, and then passed by a happy 
transition to the heroine of the war : " My Lords, the agony 

^ Panmure, vol. i. p. 278. 


of that time has become matter of history. The vegetation 
of two successive springs has obscured the vestiges of Bala- 
clava and Inkerman. Strong voices now answer to the 
roll-call, and sturdy forms now cluster round the colours. 
The ranks are full, the hospitals are empty. The angel of 
mercy still lingers to the last on the scene of her labours ; but 
her mission is all but accomplished. Those long arcades of 
Scutari in which dying men sat up to catch the sound of her 
footstep or the flutter of her dress, and fell back content to 
have seen her shadow as it passed, are now comparatively 
deserted. She may probably be thinking how to escape, 
as best she may on her return, the demonstrations of a 
nation's appreciation of the deeds and motives of Florence 


The offer of the man-of-war was declined ; and Miss 
Nightingale, with her aunt, sailed in the Danube for Athens, 
Messina, and Marseilles. A Queen's messenger was in 
attendance to help the travellers with passports. They 
stayed a night in a humble hotel in Paris (August 4), and 
travelling thence, as Miss Smith, she reached London next 
day. The " return of Florence Nightingale is on every 
one's lips," said a letter of the time, and all the newspaper- 
world was alert to discover her movements. " Weary and 
worn as she is," wrote her aunt, " I cannot tell you the dread 
she has of the receptions with which she is threatened." 
It became known that on her arrival in England she would 
proceed at once to her country-home. Triumphal arches, 
addresses from mayors and corporations, and a carriage 
drawn by her neighbours were at once suggested ; but 
Miss Nightingale had prudently withheld information of 
her time-table even from her family, and the public reception 
was avoided. It had been proposed, too, that the reception 
should be military. " The whole regiments " of the Cold- 
streams, the Grenadiers, and the Fusiliers " would like to 
come, but as that was impossible, they desired to send down 
their three Bands to meet her at the station and play her 
home, whenever she might arrive, whether by day or by 
night, if only they could find out when." But the attention 

304 ^ SPOILS OF WAR px. n 

even of her soldiers was eluded. She lay lost for a night in 
London, and at eight o'clock next morning she presented 
herself, according to a promise given to the Bermondsey 
Nuns, at their Convent door. It was the first day of their 
annual Retreat, and she rested with them for a few hours. 
Then, taking the train, she reached her home on August 7, 
1856, after nearly two years' absence in the East, arriving 
at an unexpected hour, having walked up from the little 
country station. " A little tinkle of the small church bell 
on the hills, and a thanksgiving prayer at the little chapel 
next day, were," wrote her sister, " all the innocent greeting." 
Florence's spoils of war, as Lady Verney wrote to Mrs. 
Gaskell, arrived in advance, and were characteristic. There 
was, first, William, a one-legged sailor boy, who was ten 
months in her hospitals. Occupation was found for him. 
Next there was Peter,^ a little Russian prisoner who came 
into hospital, and of whom, as he was an orphan, she took 
charge. " One of the Lady Nurses was his theological in- 
structor, and asked him where he would go when he died if 
he were a good boy ? He answered, 'To Miss Nightingale.' 
Thirdl}^ there was a big Crimean puppy, given her by the 
soldiers. He was found in a hole in the rocks near Balaclava, 
and was called ' Rousch,' which is supposed to be ' soldier ' 
in Russian. A little Russian cat, a similar gift, died on the 
road ; but the three remaining are the happiest things I 
have seen for some time, careering about in the intervals 
of school, where they are made much of, and ' glory ' is more 
agreeable to them than to their mistress ! " But Florence 
had another Crimean spoil, unknown, perhaps, to her sister, 
which she accounted one of the most sacred of her posses- 
sions. It was a bunch of grass which she had " picked out 
of the ground watered by our men's blood at Inkerman." 


" If ever I live to see England again," she had written 
in November 1855, " "the western breezes of my hill-top 
home will be my first longing, though Olympus with its 

^ Peter Grillage afterwards became man - servant at Embley. See 
Vol. II. p. 302. 


snowy cap looks fair over our blue Eastern sea." It was 
to Lea Hurst, then, that she went on her return. It was 
there, ten years before, that she had found a fortnight's 
happiness in the humble work of parish nursing and visiting, 
and had thought to herself that with a continuation of such 
life she would be content.^ The aspirations of her youth 
were to receive, as this second Part of the volume has shown, 
a larger, a fuller, and a more conspicuous attainment. Yet 
it would be a mistake to regard Miss Nightingale's mission 
in the Crimean War either as the summit of her attainment 
or the fulfilment of her life. Rather was it a starting-point. 
Her work in the East did, it is true, attain some great 
ends, and satisfy in some measure the aspiration of her 
mind and heart. " She has done a great deed," wrote a 
friend in December 1854, " ^ot less than that of those who 
stood at Inkerman or advanced at the Alma ; and she has 
made the first move towards wiping away a reproach from 
this country — that our women could not do what others 
do, irreproachably, and with advantage to their fellow- 
creatures." She had proved that there was room for nurses 
in British military hospitals. She had shown the way to a 
new and high calling for women. " What Florence has 
done," wrote Lady Verney to a friend (April 1856), " to- 
wards raising the standard of women's capabilities and work 
is most important. It is quite curious every day how ques- 
tions arise regarding them which are answered quite differ- 
ently, even when she is not alluded to, from what they would 
have been 18 months ago." Lord Stanley, in the speech at 
Manchester already mentioned, had made the same point. 
" Mark," he said, " what, by breaking through customs and 
prejudices. Miss Nightingale has effected for her sex. She 
has opened to them a new profession, a new sphere of use- 
fulness. I do not suppose that, in undertaking her mission, 
she thought much of the effect which it might have on the 
social position of women. Yet probably no one of those who 
made that question a special study has done half as much as 
she towards its settlement. A claim for more extended free- 
dom of action, based on proved public usefulness in the 
highest sense of the word, with the whole nation to look on 

^ Above, pp. 53, 64. 


and bear witness, is one which must be Hstened to, and 
cannot be easily refused." Lord Stanley was mistaken in 
supposing that Miss Nightingale thought little of the effect 
of her mission upon the position of women ; for, though 
she had misgivings about " woman's missionaries," yet to 
make " a better life for woman " ^ was an object very near 
her heart, \^^len she was in the Crimea, working as hard as 
any of the men, confronting disease and death with the bravest 
of them, administering, reforming, counselling as energetic- 
ally as the best of them, this resolute woman felt that she and 
her companions had raised their sex to the height of a great 
occasion. " War," she wrote to her friend, Mr. Bracebridge 
(Nov. 4, 1855), " makes Deborahs and Absaloms and Achito- 
phels ; and when, if ever the Magnificat has been true, 
has it been more true than now, every word of it ? My soul 
doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God 
my Saviour. For He hath regarded the lowliness of His 
handmaiden." The words, which had often been in her 
mouth in moments of despondency and thwarted yearning,^ 
came to her with the sense of happy fulfilment when she had 
been able to act as the handmaiden of God in the service of 
the sick and wounded soldiers. Her sister, understanding 
her better in the years of attainment than in those of 
aspiration, wrote to her (Nov. 15, 1855) : " What anxious 
work you have upon you, my Greatheart, and yet in spite of 
it all have you not found your true home — the home of 
your spirit ? " 

All this was true. Yet Miss Nightingale's Crimean 
mission was, in the scheme of her life as she had planned it, 
and in the facts of her life so far as failing health permitted, 
not so much a climax, as an episode. It was an episode 
remarkable in itself, and it had given her a world-wide 
reputation ; but in reputation she saw nothing except an 
opportunity for further work. " The abilities which she 
has displayed," said Mr. Sidney Herbert in Willis's Rooms, 
" cannot be allowed to slumber. So long as she lives, her 
labours are marked out for her. The diamond has shown 
itself, and it must not be allowed to return to the mine." 

^ See below, p. 385, and above, p. 102. 
2 Above, p. 94. 


Her friend well knew that he was only expressing the feelings 
of her own mind. What she sought on her return to England 
was to utilize her reputation and her experience for the 
furtherance of her ideals. Her experiences during the 
Crimean War had enlarged the scope of her work. She 
had gained an insight into military administration, and had 
shown a grasp of the subject, which had caused the Queen 
and Prince to " wish we had her at the War Office." Her 
first duty, then, was to use her experience, so far as oppor- 
tunity offered, to improve the medical administration of the 
Army. But the main desire of her life had been to raise 
nursing to the rank of a trained calling. Her mission to 
the East had not accomplished this object. It had only 
advertised it, and for the rest had shown how urgently the 
thing needed to be done. The world praised her achieve- 
ment. She was rather conscious of its shortcoming, and of 
the obstacles and difficulties with which it had been attended. 
She came back from the East more resolved than ever to 
be a pioneer in the reform of nursing. 

But first she needed rest and seclusion. Rest, in which 
to recuperate from the long strain of labours, hardships, and 
anxieties. Seclusion, in which to hide herself from publicity 
and applause. The world praised her self-sacrifice. She 
felt that she had made none. Rather had she been privileged 
to attain that harmony between the soul of a human being 
and its appointed work, in which, according to her philo- 
sophy, lay the union of man with the Divine Spirit. She 
shrank from glory in dread of vain-glory. " ' Paid by the 
world, what dost thou owe Me ? ' God might question." 
" I believe," she had written to her father in 1854, shortly 
before her Call to the Crimea came, " that there is, within 
and without human nature, a revelation of eternal existence, 
eternal progress for human nature. At the same time I 
believe that to do that part of this world's work which 
harmonizes, accords with the idiosyncrasy of each of us, is 
the means by which we may at once render this world the 
habitation of the Divine Spirit in Man, and prepare for other 
such work in other of the worlds which surround us. The 
Kingdom of Heaven is within us. Those words seem to me 
the most of a revelation, of a New Testament, of a Gospel — 


of any that are recorded to have been spoken by our Saviour." 
Her period of rest was to be very short, as we shall learn ; 
but let us leave her communing silently in her chamber 
with such thoughts, till another Part opens a new chapter 
of activity in her life. 




We can do no more for those who have suffered and died in their 
country's service ; they need our help no longer ; their spirits are 
with God who gave them. It remains for us to strive that their 
sufferings may not have been endured in vain — to endeavour so to 
learn from experience as to lessen such sufferings in future by fore- 
thought and wise management. — Florence Nightingale (Reply 
to Address from the Parishioners of East Wellow, Dec. 1856). 



(August-November 1856) 

To shape the whisper of a throne. — Tennyson. 

Whenever the British people have muddled through a war, 
there is a time of repentance and heart-searching. England 
the Unready turns round uneasily and thinks that she must 
now mend her ways. The lessons of the war must be learnt. 
The word " efficiency " is blessed in every mouth. Radical 
reforms, with a view to ensuring a better state of prepared- 
ness next time, are canvassed, and a few of them are some- 
times carried out. And then to the hot fit, a cold fit succeeds. 
War and its lessons fade into the past. Economy displaces 
efficiency as the favourite word. Peace seems to be more 
likely than another war, and, if war should unhappily come, 
it is cheerily hoped that England will again " muddle 
througn somehow." The spasm of reform is over, leaving 
the permanent vis inertiae of ministers and departments 
once more in undisturbed possession. Reformers, familiar 
with this succession of flow and ebb, know that they must 
seize the favourable moment, and more or less is done, 
according as they are more or less prompt and energetic. 
In the field of the Army Medical Service, where the Crimean 
War had exposed deficiencies both glaring and terrible, 
large and far-reaching reforms were set in motion during 
the years immediately following the Crimean peace. In- 
deed it may be said that from this period dates the first 
serious and sustained movement for the application of 
sanitary science to the British Army. 



That effective use was thus made of the spasm of repent- 
ance which followed the Crimean War was due primarily 
and mainly to the zealous co-operation of two individuals, 
the same two whose alliance formed a principal subject 
of the preceding Part of this Memoir — Sidney Herbert and 
Florence Nightingale. When her friend died in 1861, worn 
out prematurely by unceasing labours for the British Army, 
Miss Nightingale devoted to his memory an account of his 
work during the years 1856-1861. In that pamphlet ^ — a 
model of lucidity and concision — while yet informed with 
comprehensive insight, and not untouched by emotion — she 
made no reference of any kind to her own share in the work. 
She described the reforms, and said that in all that was 
done " Sidney Herbert was head and centre." And so in 
many respects he was. He was the Chairman of the Royal 
Commission and the Sub-Commissions. He was afterwards 
Minister for War. He was from first to last the official head 
of the reform movement. And he was much more than the 
official head. He worked with unfailing zeal, and threw 
his heart and soul into the work. Yet if Sidney Herbert 
had written the account, he might have said that Florence 
Nightingale was the head and centre of it all. If she could 
have done little without him, so also might he have done 
little without her. He was in the foreground, she in the 
background. His was the public voice ; the words which 
he spoke or wrote were often the words of Florence Nightin- 
gale. He was the practical politician who carried out their 
common schemes. The initiating, the inspiring, the im- 
pelHng force was hers. And she did much more than give 
general impetus. Her mastery of detail was ever at Mr. 
Herbert's elbow. " I never intend to tell you," he wrote to 
her when the first of the Royal Commissions in which they 
co-operated was nearing its end (August 7, 1857), " how 
much I owe you for all your help during the last three 
months, for I should never be able to make you understand 
how helpless my ignorance would have been among the 
Medical Philistines. God bless you ! " But between two 
such loyal allies and understanding friends, it were needless 

^ An expansion, issued in 1862, of a memorandum, privately printed 
in 1 861. See below, p. 408. 


to apportion the relative shares. They spoke and wrote of 
their working together as " our Cabinet," " our Cabal," 
or " our Mess." It is the story of this comradeship, rich 
in human interest, and fraught with lasting benefit to the 
British Army, that is to form the main subject of this and 
the following four chapters. 


What Miss Nightingale needed on her return from the 
East, and what, had she thought only of herself, she would 
have taken, was a long spell of rest. She had been through 
a campaign of labour and anxiety, under conditions of 
strain and distress, such as might have undermined the 
strongest constitution. Mr. Herbert, who was in Ireland 
when she returned to England, surmised from her letters 
that she was overwrought, and sent her the prescription of 
his Carlsbad doctor — ni lire, ni ecrire, ni reflechir. After 
such severe tension of mind and body, a reaction was in- 
evitable. He sent the prescription, but he did not expect 
her entirely to adopt it. "I should doubt," he wrote to her 
uncle, " with a mind constituted as hers is, whether entire 
rest, with a total cessation from all active business, would 
not be a greater trial and less effective for her restoration to 
health than a life of some, though very limited and moderate, 
occupation." He seems to have hoped that she might be 
persuaded to take up comparatively quiet nursing work in 
a London hospital. Presently they met (Sept.) in the 
country-house of their mutual friends, the Bracebridges, and 
Mr. Bracebridge thought that Mr. Herbert was " lukewarm " 
on the subject of Army Reform. Perhaps it was that he 
wished to consider Miss Nightingale's health and keep her 
free from exciting activity. But nothing was further from 
her thoughts than neutrality or passive spectatorship. She 
was burning for the fray, and flung all consideration of 
health aside in order to devote herself to rousing the luke- 
warm and organizing the resolute. 

To understand the passionate devotion, the self-sacrific- 
ing ardour, with which Miss Nightingale set to work imme- 
diately upon her return, we must remember what she had 
seen in the East. She had " identified herself," as we have 



heard, " with the heroic dead," and she knew that many of 
her " children," as she called them, had died, not of neces- 
sity, but from neglect. " No one," she wrote, ^ " can feel 
for the Army as I do. These people who talk to us have all 
fed their children on the fat of the land and dressed them in 
velvet and silk, while we have been away. I have had to 
see my children dressed in a dirty blanket and an old pair 
of regimental trousers, and to see them fed on raw salt meat, 
and nine thousand of my children are lying, from causes 
which might have been prevented, in their forgotten graves. 
But I can never forget. People must have seen that long, 
long dreadful winter to know what it was." Others might 
know the facts, but she felt them. The strength of her 
character and powers lay, however, in the combination 
of intense feeling with intellectual grasp. She not only 
felt the neglect which had sacrificed her children's lives, 
but she tabulated the causes. The facts which had come 
under her eye, the figures in which she summarized and 
analysed them, filled her with a passion of resentment. 
During her residence in the Eastern hospitals she had seen 
4600 soldiers die. And as she studied the figures, the con- 
clusion was irresistibly borne in upon her that the greater 
number need not have died at all. Many of the diseases to 
which they had succumbed were induced, and others were 
aggravated, in the hospitals themselves. Her personal 
observation told her that it was so ; statistical inquiry 
proved it. " We had," she pointed out, " during the first 
seven months of the Crimean campaign, a mortality among 
the troops at the rate of 60 per cent per annum from disease 
alone, a rate of mortality which exceeds that of the Great 
Plague in London, and a higher ratio than the mortality in 
4 cholera to the attacks." By a series of reforms, largely the 
result of Miss Nightingale's own untiring efforts and vehe- 
ment expostulations, this terrible rate of mortality was 
reduced. " We had, during the last six months of the war, 
a mortality among our sick not much more than among our 
healthy guards at home, and a mortality among our troops, 
in the last five months, two-thirds only of what it is among 

1 In a letter, dated Feb. 9, 1857, of which she kept a copy. To whom 
addressed does not appear. 


our troops at home." It was obvious from this comparison 
that the mortahty during the first period was largely pre- 
ventable. Here was " a complete example — history does 
not afford its equal — of an army, after a great disaster 
arising from neglects, having been brought into the highest 
state of health and efficiency." It was the most complete 
experiment ever made in army hygiene. And Miss Nightin- 
gale was filled with a passionate desire that the lessons of 
the experiment should be taken to heart by the nation ; 
that such radical reforms should be made as would render 
a repetition of the disaster and the neglects impossible 
in the future. She knew that nothing short of radical 
reform would suffice. " There is nothing," she wrote 
in summarizing the neglect of sanitary precautions at 
Scutari, "in the education of the Medical Officer — 
nothing in the organization or powers of the Army Medical 
Department — nothing in the whole Hospital procedure 
— nothing in the Army Regulations which would have met 
the case of these Hospitals. And were a similar necessity 
to arise again, especially after the lapse of a few years of 
peace, the whole thing would occur over again. This is the 
frightful consideration which ought to make us recall over 
and over again this experience — otherwise, let bygones be 
bygones." ^ 

But this was not the whole case. Miss Nightingale 
carried further the principle, which in these days is per- 
haps at last coming to be understood, that success in war 
depends upon preparation in peace. " You cannot improvise 
an Army," says Lord Roberts. " You cannot improvise the 
sanitary care of an Army in the field," said Miss Nightingale. 
If the medical service in the field were deficient, if the lessons 
of sanitary science were neglected in war hospitals, it was 
probable, she perceived, that there were like defects at home. 
She put her thesis to the test of figures, and was appalled 
at the verification which they supplied. The idea had first 
occurred to her on meeting Dr. Farr, the statistician in the 
Registrar-General's office, at dinner with her friends Colonel 
and Mrs. Tulloch. Dr. Farr had talked of mortality tables 
in civil life, and Miss Nightingale resolved to compare them 

^ Notes, sec. iii. p. viii. 


with the death-rate in British barracks. She found that 
in the Army, from the age of twenty to thirty-five, the 
mortaHty was nearly double that which it was in civil life. 
This was the case even in the Guards, who yet were select 
lives, the pick of the recruits. " With our present amount 
of sanitary knowledge," she wrote to Sir John McNeill 
(March i, 1857), " i^ is as criminal to have a mortality of 
17, 19, and 20 per 1000 in the Line, Artillery, and Guards in 
England, when that of Civil life is only 11 per 1000, as it 
would be to take iioo men per annum out upon Salisbury 
Plain and shoot them — no body of men being so much 
under control, none so dependent upon their employers for 
health, life, and morality as the Army." And again (March 
28) : " This disgraceful state of our Chatham Hospitals, 
which I have been visiting lately,^ is only one more symptom 
of a system which, in the Crimea, put to death 16,000 men — 
the finest experiment modern history has seen upon a large 
scale, viz. as to what given number may be put to death 
at will by the sole agency of bad food and bad air." She 
saw the facts and figures with piercing clearness, and per- 
sonal recollections gave intensity to her convictions. She 
had deep pity for the victims of preventable disease, and 
still deeper admiration for the uncomplaining heroism with 
which such sufferings were borne. Nothing ever effaced 
from her mind what she had witnessed in this sort at Scutari 
and in the Crimea. " We hear with horror," she wrote, " of 
the loss of 400 men on board the Birkenhead by carelessness 
at sea ; but what should we feel if we were told that iioo 
men are annually doomed to death in our Army at home by 
causes which might be prevented ? The men in the Birken- 
head went down with a cheer. So will our men fight for us 
to the last with a cheer. The more reason why all the means 
of health which Sanitary Science has put at our command, 
all the means of morality which Educational Science has 
given us, should be given them." Then she turned to the 
Crimea, described in the words of Sir John McNeill and 
Colonel Tulloch ^ the sufferings and the endurance of the 

^ See below, p. 349. 

' Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Supplies of the British 
Army, pp. 2, 3. 


troops, and drew her moral : " Upon those who watched, 
week after week and month after month, this enduring 
courage, this unalterable patience, simplicity, and good 
strength, this voiceless strength to suffer and be still, it has 
made an impression never to be forgotten. The Anglo- 
Saxon on the Crimean heights has won for himself a greater 
name than the Spartan at Thermopylae, as the six months' 
struggle to endure was a greater proof of what man can do 
than the six hours' struggle to fight. The traces of the 
name and sacrifice of Iphigeneia may still be seen in Taurus ; 
but a greater sacrifice has been there accomplished by a 
' handful ' of brave men who defended that fatal position, 
even to the death. And if Inkerman now bears a name 
like that of Thermopylae, so is the story of those terrible 
trenches, through which these men patiently and deliber- 
ately, and week after week, went, till they returned no more, 
greater than that of Inkerman. Truly were the Sebastopol 
trenches, to our men, like the gate of the Infernal Regions — 
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch' entrate. And yet these men 
would refuse to report themselves sick, lest they should 
throw more labour on their comrades. They would draw 
their blankets over their heads and die without a word. 
Well may it be said that there is hardly an example in history 
to compare with this long and silent fortitude. But surely 
the blood of such men is calling to us from the ground, not 
to avenge them, but to have mercy on their survivors ! " ^ 
To that cry, Florence Nightingale, at least, responded 
through every fibre of her being. She was resolved to be 
" a saviour," and to press home every lesson of the Crimean 

The strength of her resolve was heightened by a sense 
of the responsibility which her opportunities laid upon her. 
She had enjoyed peculiar facilities for observing the whole 
medical history of the campaign. She had been able to 
take the measure of many of the military and medical 
officials ; she knew which were the men from whom help 
might be expected in the work of reform, and of most of such 

^ Notes on the Army, pp. 249-50, 507-8. The latter passage con- 
tinues with some words which Miss Nightingale had previously written 
and which I have quoted as a motto for the present Part (p. 309). 


men she had the ear and the respect. Her popular fame 
added to the authority with which her experience and her 
services invested her. There were others who knew, or 
might have known, the facts as well as she. There were 
few who could exercise the same influence, and perhaps 
there was not one who could judge the facts with the same 
disinterestedness. She was not a politician. She had no 
party to defend, no officials to shield, no susceptibilities to 
consider. She had nothing to gain, nothing to lose, nothing 
to fear. She stood only for a cause ; and, come what 
might, she was resolved to fling every power of mind and 
body into it. Among her private notes of 1856 I find this : 
" I stand at the altar of the murdered men, and, while I live, 
I fight their cause." 


The opportunity was not long in coming. For a week 
or two at Lea Hurst she was engaged in such laborious, but 
unexciting, tasks as settling accounts and claims with the 
nurses ; distributing the Sultan's gift among them ; answer- 
ing congratulatory addresses and the like ; escaping from 
public appearances ; ^ and dealing with hailstorms, as her 
sister called them, of miscellaneous letters. She was be- 
sieged by Vegetarians, Spiritualists, Sectaries, and other 
birds of the feather that swoop down upon conspicuous 
personages. With distressed gentlewomen she was a favour- 
ite prey. " Can you find soldiers' orphans for me to edu- 
cate," wrote one, " because I don't like leaving my sisters ? " 
" Please find a place for me," wrote another, " where there 
will be something to do not derogatory. I am an Irish lady 
of family." The begging-letters were innumerable, and the 
answering of these was taken over by her sister. " I think 
I can now repeat the formula to perfection," she said, " and 
I could write a begging-letter at the shortest notice in the 

^ Her sister used to describe the disappointment of herself and her 
mother when Florence refused to accompany them to a garden-party at 
Chatsworth. The Duke of Devonshire was a great admirer of Miss Nightin- 
gale's work, and formed a collection of newspaper cuttings about it, which 
he presented to the Derby Free Library. He presented Miss Nightingale 
with a silver owl, in recognition of her wisdom, and in memory of her pet 
(see above, p. 160). 


character of every individual, from a staff -officer to a 
costermonger, and a widow with six children." But here 
Lady Verney's lively pen suggests some little injustice. 
Officers did occasionally write to Miss Nightingale, I find, 
to beg her " vote and interest," as it were ; but of begging- 
letters proper, she told Mr. Kinglake that there had never 
come one to her from a soldier.^ Mr. Kinglake, I may here 
say, made her acquaintance in the spring of 1857, when her 
mind was full of the McNeill-Tulloch affaire. She failed to 
make him take her view of that controversy,^ and her first 
impression of the historian-to-be of the Crimean War was 
that he would write a book more brilliant than judicial. 
" Though I have no doubt he is a good counsel," she wrote,^ 
" he strikes me as a very bad historian." Three years later, 
she wrote in a similar strain : — 

I had two hours' good conversation with Mr. Kinglake. I 
found him exceedingly courteous and agreeable ; looking upon 
the whole idea as a work of art and emotion, and upon me as 
one of the colours in the picture ; upon the Chelsea Board as a 
safe (or rather an infallible) authority ; upon McNeill and Tulloch 
as interlopers ; upon figures (arithmetical) as worthless ; upon 
assertion as proof. He was utterly and self-sufficiently in the 
dark as to all the real causes of the Crimean Mortality. And 
you might as well try to enlighten Sir G. Brown himself. For 
Lord Raglan he has an enthusiasm which I fully share but which 
entirely blinds Mr. Kinglake, who besides came home long before 
the real distress, to the causes of that distress. I put him in 
possession of some of the materials. But I do not hope that he 
will, I am quite sure that he will not, make use of them."* 

Miss Nightingale here was wrong. Mr. Kinglake made 
considerable use of her materials, and drew from them and 
from his personal impressions an excellent picture of the 
Lady-in-Chief ; though on the point about which she was 
concerned, the McNeill-Tulloch affaire, he remained of the 
same opinion still. 

Of Miss Nightingale's demeanour during her short 

1 Invasion of the Crimea, vol. vi. p. 426 n. 
^ See below, p. 336. 

* In a letter to Sir John McNeill, May 3, 1857. 

* Letter to Edwin Chadwick, Oct. 17, i860. He had urged her to see 
Mr. Kinglake with a view to indoctrinating him with the true moral of 
the Crimean muddles. 

320 A REST AT LEA HURST pt. m 

holiday at home in August 1856, there is a pleasant account 
in a letter from her sister ^ : — 

She is better, I think, but I quite hate the sight of the post 
with its long official envelopes. She will go on as long as she 
has strength doing everything which cannot be left without 
detriment to the work to which she has devoted her life. I 
cannot conceive anything more beautiful than her frame of mind. 
It is so calm, so cheerful, so simple. The physical hardships 
one does not wonder at her forgetting to speak of ; but the 
marvel to me is how the mental ones, — the indifference, the 
ignorance, the cruelty, the falsehood she has had to encounter — 
never seem to ruffle her for an instant (and never have done, 
Aunt Mai says). It is as if she dwelt in another atmosphere of 
peace and trust in Him which nothing wicked can dim. She speaks 
of these things sadly and quietly as some one from another world 
might do, seeing so plainty the excuses for the wrong-doers, 
while the personal part never seems to come in, and there is such 
a charm about her perfect simphcity. There is not the smallest 
particle of the martyr about her ; she is as merry about little 
things as ever, in the intervals of her great thought, and with 
as much interest about the little things of home as if she had not 
been wielding the management and organization of the material 
and spiritual comfort of the 50,000 men passing through hospital 
and out. If you heard all the evidence we have had lately from 
doctors, chaplains and officers, you would not think I am ex- 
aggerating in saying that these depended mainly upon her during 
the whole of these 21 months. As to her indifference to praise, 
it is most extraordinary ; she just passes on and does not heed it, 
as it comes in every morning in its flood — papers, music, poetiy, 
friends, letters, addresses. 

The addresses and presentations which she most valued 
came from working-men. A case of Sheffield cutlery, pre- 
sented by artisans in that city, was always treasured, and was 
the subject of a specific bequest in her will. She was much 
touched by an address from 1800 working-men at Newcastle- 
on-Tyne. " My dear friends," she wrote in the course of her 
reply (August 1856), " the things that are deepest in our 
hearts are perhaps what it is most difficult to express. ' She 
hath done what she could.' These words I inscribed on the 
tomb of one of my best helpers when I left Scutari. It has 
been my endeavour, in the sight of God, to do as she has 

1 To Miss Ellen Toilet from Lea Hurst. 


Presently there came to Lea Hurst a letter of much 
importance in Miss Nightingale's life. Her friend, Sir James 
Clark, the Queen's physician, wrote from Osborne (August 
23, 1856) begging her to stay during the following month 
at his home, Birk Hall, near Ballater. The air of Scotland 
would be beneficial, he said, to her health ; and there were 
other reasons. The Court would shortly be moved to Bal- 
moral. The Queen would doubtless invite Miss Nightingale 
there. Meanwhile Her Majesty knew of the present invita- 
tion ; and there would be opportunity at Birk Hall for quiet 
and informal talk in addition to any " command " visit at 
Balmoral. Miss Nightingale heard in this letter a call 
hardly less important than that to the Crimea, two years 
before. She had served with the Queen's army in the East. 
Her services had received sympathetic support and appro- 
bation from the Queen and the Prince. She was now to 
have full opportunities for bringing to their knowledge, in 
personal intercourse, what she had seen of the soldiers' 
sufferings, and for enlisting their support, if she could, in 
what she knew to be necessary for the prevention of such 
sufferings in the future. She succeeded, as will presently 
appear ; and she deserved her success by the thoroughness 
with which she prepared herself to make the best use of 
her opportunity. 

The two men who had thrown light most searchingly 
on the defects of the campaign, in the matter of supply and 
transport, were Sir John McNeill and Colonel Tulloch. Miss 
Nightingale arranged to see and confer with the former at 
Edinburgh on her way to Ballater. Colonel Tulloch, though 
he was far distant at the time, agreed to join the conclave, 
and, meanwhile, he wrote (from Killin, Sept. 6) : " If H.M. 
should afford you an opportunity of telling the whole truth, 
as I think it likely she wishes to do from her desire to see 
you under another roof, without her enquiries being noticed, 
perhaps you might bring to her knowledge," etc., etc. 
[various points which he deemed of special importance]. 
Mr. Herbert's advice was more general. " I hope," he 
wrote (Sept. 9), "that your Highland foray will do you 
good. I am sure it will, if you find help and encouragement 
for your plans. I hope you will talk fully, and illustrate by 



facts and details. They explain best. Men and women 
require picture-books, just as much as children, when they 
are to learn something of which they know nothing pre- 
viously," She armed herself, by study of statistics, by 
collection of her notes and memoranda, by inquiries on all 
sides, for every occasion which the sympathetic interest of 
the Queen or the Prince might give her. She felt, and others 
felt, that great things might turn on her use of such occasions. 
The fullest and most suggestive letter which she received 
was from Colonel Lefroy, He was employed at the War 
Ofhce. He knew the weaknesses of his Chief, He knew 
also the strength of the Department to resist. He had been 
employed, as we have heard already,^on a confidential mission 
to the Crimea, and had formed the highest opinion of " the 
glorious fidelity, the self-sacrifice, the heroic courage, and 
single-minded devotion " with which Miss Nightingale had 
performed her duties in the East, He looked for great 
results from her visit to Scotland : — 

{Colonel Lefroy to Miss Nightingale.) August 28, . . , I 
never had the good fortune to have an interview with the Queen, 
but I have had several with Prince Albert. The Prince ex- 
hibited such a remarkable knowledge of the subjects he was 
enquiring about, so strong and clear and business-like a capacity 
that you will, I think, find it both expedient and necessary, or 
rather unavoidable, to enter into a full and unreserved communi- 
cation of your observations, and be tempted irresistibly to let fall 
such suggestions as are most likely to germinate in that high 
latitude. If I am correct in this impression, a similar frankness 
with Lord Panmure follows, I was once amused by the Prince 
remarking on a point of military education, " I have urged it 
over and over again ; they do not mind what I say," showing that 
even he cannot always overcome the vis inertiae of Departmental 
indifference or prevail on people to move. It may be so in any 
question of medical reform. Lord Panmure hates detail, and does 
not appreciate system. He can reform but not organise. It is 
organisation we want, but which arouses every instinct of re- 
sistance in the British bosom, and it is this which can be least 
influenced by H.M.'s personal interest in it. Like a rickety 
clumsy machine, with a pin loose here and a tooth broken there, 
and a makeshift somewhere else, in which the force of Hercules 
may be exhausted in a needless friction and obscure hitches before 

1 See above, p. 297. 


the hands are got to move, so is our Executive, with the Treasury, 
the Horse Guards, the War Department, the Medical Depart- 
ment all out of gear, but all required to move together before a 
result can be attained. He will be stronger than Hercules, who 
gets out of it the movement we require. I think I would recom- 
mend ... [a long statement of suggested reforms, including 
" a Commission to enquire into the existing Regulations for 
Hospital Administration "]. In some form or other we have 
almost a right to ask at your hands an account of the trials you 
have gone through, the difficulties you have encountered, and 
the evils you have observed — not only because no other person 
ever was or can be in such a position to give it, but because, 
permit me to say, no one else is so gifted. It will be no ordinary 
task ; and no ordinary powers of reasoning, illustrating, grouping 
facts will be requisite. Another might repeat ,what you told him, 
but the burning conviction, the vis viva of the soul cannot be 
imparted. ... It appears to me that either a confidential report 
addressed to Lord Panmure upon a formal request, or evidence 
before such a Commission as I have proposed above would be 
suitable means — the latter the most so, as I fear that more 
publicity than attends confidential reports will be necessary. 
I earnestly hope that your interviews with the Queen and Lord 
Panmure may be the means of leading both to interest them- 
selves effectually in the vital reforms required. The axe has to 
be laid to the root of the tree yet. 

Various friends tendered advice as to what Miss Nightin- 
gale should say if she were to be asked what the Queen could 
" do for her." She might petition to be placed in charge 
of the new hospital about to be built at Netley, or to be 
appointed Lady Superintendent of Nurses in all military 
hospitals, and so forth. Her own ideas were on the lines of 
Colonel Lefroy's letter. She would, first, tell the whole 
truth of the campaign, so far as it had come under her per- 
sonal observation. If given any encouragement to proceed, 
she would explain in general terms the kind of remedies 
which she deemed essential. She would offer, if the con- 
versation took a suitable turn, to embody her observations 
and suggestions in a written report. If further honoured 
by any suggestion of Royal favour, she would ask — for her- 
self, nothing ; but for the sake of the soldiers, a Royal 
Commission to inquire into the whole condition of barracks, 
hospitals, and the Army Medical Department. 



Thus armed, and thus resolved, Miss Nightingale set out 
for Scotland, under her father's escort. Between father 
and daughter there was genuine affection ; but Mr. Nightin- 
gale was in indifferent health, and was constitutionally of a 
retiring disposition. After a few days he beat a retreat. 
It had been supposed that the " foray " would be short. 
In fact it lasted for a month. Miss Nightingale reached 
Edinburgh on September 15, and, staying there a few days, 
took occasion to inspect the barracks and hospitals. She 
left for Birk Hall on September 19, and two days later she 
was introduced to the Queen and the Prince at Balmoral by 
Sir James Clark. " She put before us," wrote the Prince in 
his diary, " all the defects of our present military hospital 
system, and the reforms that are needed. We are much 
pleased with her ; she is extremely modest." ^ A few days 
later (Sept. 26) the Queen drove over from Balmoral to 
Birk Hall, and Miss Nightingale had " tea and a great talk " 
with Her Majesty. The impression made on the Queen 
has been already recorded in her letter to the Duke of Cam- 
bridge : "I wish we had her at the War Office." The Duke, 
who was not exactly a red-hot reformer, must have been 
thankful that the wish of his August Relative for a new 
broom did not extend to the Horse Guards. " My hopes 
were somewhat raised," wrote Miss Nightingale to Sir John 
McNeill (Sept. 27), " by the great willingness of the Queen, 
Prince Albert, and Sir George Grey, all of whom I have 
seen together and separately, to listen and to ask questions." 
" I have had most satisfactory interviews," she wrote to her 
Uncle Sam (Sept. 25), " with the Queen, the Prince, and Sir 
George Grey. Satisfactory, that is, as far as their will, 
not as their power is concerned." Miss Nightingale is not 
the only impatient reformer who has been tempted to wish 
that knots of red tape could be cut by a direct exercise of 
the Royal Prerogative. The Prince knew " in what limits " 
he and the Queen moved. Nothing could be done except 
through Ministers, and the Minister for War would shortly be 

1 Life of the Prince Consort, vol. iii. p. 503, 


in attendance at Balmoral. " The Queen," continued Miss 
Nightingale, " wished me to remain to see Lord Panmure 
here rather than in London, because she thinks it more 
likely that something might be done with him here with her 
to back me. I don't. But I am obliged to succumb." So 
she stayed on at Birk Hall, her "command" visit to Balmoral 
being postponed till Lord Panmure should arrive. The Queen 
sent a good character of Miss Nightingale to the Minister 
in advance. " Lord Panmure," she wrote, " will be much 
gratified and struck with Miss Nightingale — her powerful, 
clear head, and simple, modest manner." ^ The Queen had 
" accepted with great grace " the suggestion that any letter 
of recommendations sent by Miss Nightingale to Lord 
Panmure should be sent also to Her Majesty direct. 

The point of interest among Miss Nightingale's Reform 
" Cabinet " now shifted from the Queen to her Ministers. 
The Court had been won. " Lord Auckland says," wrote 
Lady Verney to her sister, " that he hears from Lord Claren- 
don that the Queen was enchanted with you." But what 
impression would she make upon the less susceptible " Bison" 
(for so the burly Scot, Lord Panmure, was called by Miss 
Nightingale and her friends) ? She had reported herself to 
him immediately on her return from the East, and he had 
replied politely, but postponed the pleasure of an interview. 
Mr. Herbert was not sure that much would come of it even 
in the sympathetic air of Balmoral. " I gather," he wrote 
(Oct. 3), " that upon the whole you are pleased with the 
result of your conversations with the Queen and Prince 
Albert. I hope you will do equally well with Panmure, 
tho' I am not sanguine ; for, tho' he has plenty of shrewd 
sense, there is a vis inertiae in his resistance which is very 
difficult to overcome." Sir John McNeill was more hopeful. 
He attached great importance to the personal factor in 
Miss Nightingale's favour : — 

" I anticipate considerable advantage," he wrote (Sept. 29), 
" from your interview with Lord Panmure. He has seen your 

^ Panmure, vol. ii. p. 306. 


name in every newspaper, and probably has no very accurate, 
or perhaps a very inaccurate notion, of what sort of person Miss 
Florence Nightingale is. He may perhaps think that a lady 
whose name is so frequently mentioned can hardly be indifferent 
to popular applause and that with so strong a hold upon the 
feelings of the nation, she is not unlikely to use it for the gratifica- 
tion of personal ambition. If he has such notions, he will be un- 
deceived. He will find that influenced by higher motives you 
have no desire to employ your influence for any other purpose 
than to do all the good you can in the work which you have 
chosen, and that the absence of personal motive it is which gives 
you the courage and the right to speak fearlessly the whole truth, 
and to persevere in the direct line of duty whatever may be the 
difficulties or the obstacles. He will see that you have no desire 
to become in any sense a rival, and that it rests with him to make 
you a co-adjutor or an opponent, as he may be willing or un- 
willing to promote the good which you consider it your plain 
duty as far as in you lies to carry out." 

Sir John's attitude to Miss Nightingale was always a 
little paternal, and I think that we may perhaps read be- 
tween the lines of his well-turned sentences a hint and a 
caution, under the guise of an encomium. The hint was 
not needed. She was entirely free from any temptation 
to use her popularity for purposes of personal ambition ; 
but she was to show considerable skill in the use of it, 
as a weapon in reserve, for furthering her public objects. 
Mr. Herbert and Sir John McNeill were both right. The 
personal factor prevailed, as Sir John hoped ; and Miss 
Nightingale won the Minister, even as she had won the Court 
— or seemed to win him. He promised all she asked ; but 
it was also as Mr. Herbert feared, and the force of passive 
resistance was long maintained. 

When Lord Panmure reached Balmoral, Miss Nightin- 
gale was commanded thither. The Court Circular (Oct. 6) 
chronicled her attendance at church with the Queen, and at 
the ball given to the gillies it was noticed that she was seated 
with the Royal Family. She had an opportunity to " tell 
the Prince the whole story " of her experiences in the East. 
Another side of her interests also came into play on this 
occasion. She had talks with Prince Albert " on meta- 
physics and religion." Then Lord Panmure, following in 
the steps of his Sovereign, went to see Miss Nightingale at 


Birk Hall, and they had long conversations. " You may 
Hke to know," wrote Mr. John Clark ^ (Oct. 13), " that you 
fairly overcame Pan. We found him with his mane ab- 
solutely silky, and a loving sadness pervading his whole 
being." " I forget whether I told you," wrote Sidney 
Herbert (Nov. 2), " that the Bison wrote to me very m.uch 
pleased with his interview with you. He says that he was 
very much surprised at your physical appearance, as I 
think you must have been with his. God bless you ! " 
Lord Panmure, I suspect, was one of those men who presume 
that any strong - minded woman will be physically ill- 
favoured. At any rate Miss Nightingale greatly impressed 
the Minister, even as the Queen had predicted. In general 
terms. Lord Panmure seemed very favourable to Miss 
Nightingale's suggestions. It was agreed that she should 
presently write out her experiences with notes on necessary 
reforms for the information of the Government, and in this 
request the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, associated 
himself with Lord Panmure. The Minister for War seemed 
well disposed towards a scheme to which she attached great 
importance — the establishment of an Army Medical School. 
He agreed in principle to the appointment of a Royal Com- 
mission. So she had gained, it seemed, all she wanted, and 
the Minister threw in an additional point of his own.^ The 
plans for the hospital at Netley — the first General Military 
Hospital — were at this time far advanced. Lord Panmure 
would send the plans to Miss Nightingale, and would be 
mucn obliged for her remarks upon them. Conversation 
on this and all the other subjects just mentioned was 
to be resumed when they would both be in London in 


When news of the spoils, which Miss Nightingale had 
brought back from her Highland " foray," reached her little 

^ Son of Sir James, whom he succeeded in the baronetcy ; married 
to Charlotte Coltman. There was afterwards a family connection with 
the Nightingales, as Lady Clark's nephew, Mr. Wilham Coltman, married 
Miss Nightingale's cousin, Bertha Smith. 

2 Which, however, may not improbably have been suggested to him by 
the Queen. For Her Majesty's initiative and keen interest in the matter 
of the Netley Hospital, see Life of the Prince Consort, vol. iii. pp. 227, 491, 


" Cabinet " of reformers, their hopes ran high, and arrange- 
ments were promptly made for meetings and consultations. 
The Lady-in-Chief broke her journey southwards at Edin- 
burgh, in order to confer again with Sir John McNeill. On 
October 15 she was back at Lea Hurst, and entered into 
correspondence with other of the confederates. On Novem- 
ber 2, she came to London, making her headquarters at 
the Burhngton in Old Buriington Street, the favourite 
hostelry at this time of her family : a house which came 
to be known among those behind the scenes as " The Little 
War Office." She drew up lists of an ideal Royal Commis- 
sion, and circulated it among her allies for their suggestions, 
and, in the case of those whom she proposed to nominate, 
for their consent. One of these latter was her friend and 
physician at Scutari, Dr. Sutherland. " I have just re- 
ceived your letter," he wrote (Nov. 12), " and am led to 
believe that there must be a foundation of truth under the 
old myth about the Amazon women somewhere to the East 
of Scutari. All I can say is that if you had been queen of 
that respectable body in old days, Alexander the Great 
would have had rather a bad chance. Your project has 
developed itself far better than I expected, and I think I see 
a way of doing good and therefore I shall serve on the Com- 
mission. Get Alexander. Nobody else if you cannot. He 
is our man. I am to meet you to-night at Sir James Clark's 
to dinner, and shall be very glad to talk over the subject 
further." Dr. Sutherland assumed, it will be seen, that the 
Amazon would carry him in ; and she did. Over Dr. 
Alexander there was a stiff fight. Miss Nightingale had been 
greatly impressed in the Crimea by his skill, fearlessness, and 
activity. He had now received an appointment in Canada, 
and Lord Panmure objected to recalling him ; but Mr. 
Herbert made his own acceptance of the Chairmanship 
conditional on the appointment of Dr. Alexander, " the 
ablest and most effective man with our Army." ^ Sir James 
Clark's consent to serve was doubtless secured at the dinner 
just mentioned. Sir James Ranald Martin was also willing, 
and he had a candidate of his own, " Farr," he wrote to 
Colonel TuUoch (Nov. 11), " ought to be a member. I wish 

^ Stanmore, vol. ii. p. 121. 


you would take an early opportunity of bringing the question 
before Miss Nightingale with all the force of which you are 
capable." She was already in correspondence with Dr. 
William Farr ; they had a link in their common passion for 
statistics. She did not succeed in carrying him on to the 
Commission, but they collaborated in the preparation of 
statistical evidence for it. Then she approached Sir Henry 
Storks, who was willing to serve. She hoped to be able to 
include her friend Colonel Lefroy also, but there she failed. 
That Sidney Herbert was the Chairman of her choice goes 
without saying. The other appointment to which she 
naturally attached vital importance was that of a secretary, 
and her choice fell upon Dr. Graham Balfour.^ Having 
settled the Commissioners, Miss Nightingale proceeded to 
draft their Instructions, and this draft also she circulated 
for criticism and advice. 

She was now ready for the promised interview with Lord 
Panmure. On the morning of the fateful day, Sir James 
Clark wrote to her : "I think it would be well when you see 
Lord Panmure to make him understand that the enquiry is 
intended as, and must comprehend, an investigation into 
the whole Medical Department of the Army, and everything 
regarding the health of the Army." A needless reminder 
to her who had everything cut and dried in that sense long 
before ! " I long to hear," wrote Mr. Herbert, " what 
results you obtain from the Bison." Miss Nightingale 
preserved her note of the results written at the time, and 
it iz so characteristic of her humour that I print it very 
nearly in extenso : — 

[Nov. 16.] My " Pan " here for three hours. Wrote down — 

President — Mr. Herbert ^ 

General Storks -Jury. 

Colonel Lefroy J 

Dr. A. Smith t 

Dr. McLachlan i Army Doctors. 

Dr. Brown j 

Dr. Sutherland i 

Dr. Martin i Civil Doctors. 

Dr. Farr J 

Secretary — Dr. Balfour . . Army Doctor. 

1 Thomas Graham Balfour {1813-1891), M.D. of Edinburgh ; compiler 
of the first four volumes of Statistics of the British Army ; assistant-surgeon 
to the Grenadier Guards. 


Will have Drs. balanced. Not fair : two soldiers reckon as 
against Civil element. Whenever I represented it (I did not 
know old " Pan " was so sharp), he offered to take off Col. Lefroy ! 
So I had to knock under. 

Won't bring back Alexander from Canada. Will have three 
Army Doctors. So, like a sensible General in retreat, I named 
[Dr. Joseph] Brown, Surgeon Major, Grenadier Guards, therefore 
not wedded to Dr. Smith, an old Peninsular and Reformer. 
Left Lord P. his McLachlan, who will do less harm than a better 
man. He has generously struck out Milton. ^ Seeing him in such 
a " coming on disposition," I was so good as to leave him Dr. 
Smith, the more so as I could not help it. 

Have a tough fight of it : Dr. Balfour as Secretary. Pan 
amazed at my condescension in naming a Mihtary Doctor ; so 
I concealed the fact of the man being a dangerous animal and 
obstinate innovator. 

Failed in one point. Unfairly. Pan told Sir J. Clark he was 
to be on. Won't have him now. Sir J. Clark has become in- 
terested. Agreeable to the Queen to have him — just as well to 
have Her on our side. . . . 

Besides things Ld. P. finds convenient to forget, has really 
an inconveniently bad memory as to names, facts, dates, and 
numbers. Hope I know what discipline is too well, having had 
the honour of holding H.M.'s Commission, to have a better 
memory than my Chief. 

Pan has four Army Doctors really, .-. according to his 
principle I have a right to four Civihans. 

Instructions : general and comprehensive, comprising the 
whole Army Medical Department, and the health of the Army, 
at home and abroad. Semi-official letter from Secretary of State 
on Memorandum from President giving details. Smith, equal 
parts lachrymose and threatening, will say, " I did not under- 
stand that we were to inquire into this." 

My master jealous. Does not wish it to be supposed he 
takes suggestions from me, which crime indeed very unjust to 
impute to him. 

You must drag it through. If not you, no one else, 

(i) Col. Lefroy to be instructed by Lord P. to draw up 
scheme and estimate for Army Medical School, appendix to his 
own Mihtary Education. — / won. 

^ Mr. Milton had been sent out to Scutari by the War Office to assist 
the Purveyor-in-Chief, and Miss Nightingale considered that he had dealt 
only in official " whitewash." 


(2) Netley Hospital plans to be privately reported on by 
Sutherland and me to Lord P. — / won. 

(3) Commissariat to be put on same footing as Indian. — / 

(4) Camp at Aldershot to " do for " themselves — kill cattle, 
bake bread, build, drain, shoe-make, tailor, &c. — Lord P. will 
consider : quite agrees ; means " will do nothing." 

(5) Sir J. Hall not to be made Director-General while Lord 
P. in office. — / won. 

(6) Colonel TuUoch to be knighted.—/ lost (unless I can 
make Col. T. accept an agreement, which I shan't).^ 

(7) About Statistics, Lord P. said (i.) the strength of these 
regiments averaged only 200, (ii.) denied the mortahty, (iii.) said 
that statistics prove anything. — And I, a soldier, must not know 
better than my Chief. 

(8) Lord P. contradicted everything — so that I retain the 
most sanguine expectations of success. 

A good three hours' work ! But many months were to 
elapse before Lord Panmure's promise to appoint a Com- 
mission was fulfilled. It will be convenient, however, to 
anticipate the course of events in one respect, and to finish 
here the story of the personnel of the Commission. Lord 
Panmure at once wrote to Mr. Herbert, asking him to accept 
the Chairmanship : " I wrote to Panmure," he sent word to 
Miss Nightingale from Wilton (Nov. 25), " as agreed between 
us, as suaviter as I could as to the mode, but in re trying to 
name the Commission and define the Instructions. I hope 
I shall hear to-morrow from him, and I will let you know 
how the land lies the moment I get any sign from him. 
Supposing that he yields, it will be a task of great labour 
and difficulty, but one well worth undertaking with a fair 
prospect of attaining an immense good, even if we do not 
get all we want. If he stands out, we must hold another 
Council for vi^hich I will run up." The text of Mr. Herbert's 
letter to Lord Panmure has been printed elsewhere. ^ On 
the matter of personnel, he suggested General Storks and 
Colonel Lefroy ; two army doctors, one of whom he insisted 
should be Dr. Alexander ; two civil doctors, one of whom 
should be Sir James Clark ; a sanitary authority, Dr. 
Sutherland ; and, lastly, a good examining lawyer. The 

^ On this subject, see below, p. 338. 
^ Sianmore, vol. ii. pp. 1 19-122. 


Commission, as ultimately appointed, consisted of 
Mr. Herbert {Chairman), Mr. Augustus Stafford, M.P., 
General Storks, Dr. A. Smith, Dr. T. Alexander, Sir 
T. Phillips, Sir J. Ranald Martin, Sir James Clark, and 
Dr. J. Sutherland, with Dr. Graham Balfour as Secre- 
tary. If the reader will compare the ten names resulting 
from Miss Nightingale's bargaining with Lord Panmure, 
it will be seen that there were four changes. She lost one 
friend. Colonel Lefroy, but gained another, Mr. Stafford. 
She gained Dr. Alexander in place of Dr. McLachlan, and 
Sir James Clark in place of Dr. Brown. Dr. Farr was struck 
off in favour of Mr. Herbert's " good examining lawyer," 
Sir T. Phillips. He was the one dark horse ; and, before the 
Commission sat. Miss Nightingale was asked to meet him. 
" We propose an irregular mess," wrote Mrs. Herbert to 
her (May 12, '57), " as Sidney thinks Sir T. Phillips wants 
cramming." There was on the Commission only one 
upholder of the old regime, Dr. Andrew Smith. 

Had the facts recited in this chapter been known at the 
time, Miss Nightingale's opponents might have found some 
warrant for a suggestion that she had packed the Commission. 
But she and Mr. Herbert packed it only in the public interest. 
In discussions about women's rights it is sometimes said 
that women need no other opportunities for influence than 
such as have always been within their reach. Miss Nightin- 
gale, who was in favour of Female Suffrage, would hardly 
have gained more influence by the possession of a vote. 
But then very few women, and not many men, have the 
opportunities, the industry, the mental grasp, and the 
strength of will which in combination were the secret of 
" the Nightingale power." 

Lord Panmure delayed his formal reply to Mr. Herbert's 
letter of conditions, but sent a short note meanwhile of a 
friendly character. Mr. Herbert at once forwarded it to 
Miss Nightingale (Nov. 30, '56), and said : " I hope the note 
augurs well. ... All I can promise is to do my best, and 
to postpone all other business to this one object till it is 
achieved. I shall require great assistance from and thro' you. 
I shall like to see all that you are writing as it goes on, if 
you see no objection. It would probably tell me much, and 


lead me to question, and so learn more." Thus, then, three 
months after her return from the Crimean War, broken in 
bodily health, was this indomitable woman thrown into 
the maelstrom of work which will be described in the next 
chapter. But it was work for the salvation of the British 
Army. She " stood at the altar of the murdered men " ; 
and she shrank from no self-sacrifice. 



(Nov. 1856-Aug. 1857) 

You have sown the seed, and the harvest will come. God will give 
the increase. — Sir John McNeill [Letter to Florence Nightingale, on her 
" Notes affecting the Health of the British Army "). 

The power of passive resistance wielded by a Department, 
and the reluctance or the inability of an easy-going Minister 
to withstand it, are unintelligible to those who are not them- 
selves part of an administrative machine, and they are 
exasperating to those who are possessed of an impetuous 
temper and a resolute will. The Royal Commission on the 
health of the Army had been settled " in principle " between 
Lord Panmure and Miss Nightingale at their interview on 
Nov. 16, 1856, and a week later the Minister had received 
Mr. Herbert's conditional acceptance of the chairmanship. 
It was not till May 5, 1857, that the Royal Warrant actually 
setting up the Commission was issued. Throughout the six 
months of delay, Mr. Herbert and Miss Nightingale were 
busily employed in endeavours to persuade or coerce the 
Secretary of State into granting the Commission effective 
powers ; the War Office and the Army Medical Department 
were as busily counter-working in the hope of so restricting 
its scope that any recommendations it might make would be 
of a " harmless " character.^ There is no reason, I think, to 
suspect Lord Panmure of insincerity, but he was not the man 
to force the pace. 

There were moments during the months of delay when 
Miss Nightingale's patience was exhausted, and there was one 

^ See Stanmore, vol. ii. p. 124. 


moment when her spirit for the fight quailed and she thought 
of taking service in a civil hospital. Lord Panmure from 
time to time was afflicted by the gout — " in the hands," Mr. 
Herbert said to Miss Nightingale, " and this explains his not 
writing." " His gout is always handy," she retorted. Then 
there was the call of the birds to be shot and the stags to be 
stalked. " But the Bison himself is bullyable, remember 
that." This was the word which she constantly passed 
round among her allies. At one time she pressed Mr. Herbert 
to issue an ultimatum. Let him renounce the chairmanship 
forthwith, unless Lord Panmure put an end peremptorily to 
the delays and gave a pledge that the recommendations of 
the Commission should be acted upon. Mr. Herbert and her 
other friends were for a more cautious policy, and she was 
overborne. " If you can get us out of the old, miry rut," 
wrote Sir John McNeill (Dec. 19, 1856), " and put us fairly on 
the rail, though the plant may be defective and the speed 
small, we shall go on improving. Do not allow yourself to be 
discouraged by delays." She was not in the end discouraged, 
but she was not the woman to sit still under the delays. She 
remembered her own mot d'ordre ; and if she did not " bully 
the Bison," I imagine that she sometimes administered a 
feline stroke or two. In December Lord Panmure asked 
leave to come to her quiet room in Burlington Street for a 
talk. And the talk was quiet, too, I doubt not, for Miss 
Nightingale, sometimes biting in private letters, was never 
vehement in conversation. But she could be quietly 
emphatic. She was fully conscious of the strength of a 
weapon which she held in reserve. That weapon was her 
popularity, and the command, which she could use, if she 
chose, of the ear of the press and the public. Lord Panmure 
must have been conscious of this factor in the case also. It 
had been settled at Balmoral, again " in principle," that 
Miss Nightingale was to prepare a Report embodying the 
results of her experience and thought. If she and the 
Minister remained on good terms, if she felt assured that the 
Army in medical and sanitary matters would be reformed 
from within, her Report would remain confidential. But if 
she were not so persuaded, there was nothing to prevent her 
from heading a popular agitation for reform from without. 


This was her weapon for " buUjdng the Bison." In a note 
of self-communing, written during some moment of disap- 
pointment, she reproaches herself with having been " a bad 
mother " to the heroic dead, but pledges herself to continue 
the fight to the end. She had " begun at the highest, my 
Sovereign," and had proceeded to work through the poli- 
ticians. If all else failed, she would make a last appeal, " like 
Cobden with the Corn Law," to the country. " Three 
months from this day," she wrote in one of her letters of 
incitement to Mr. Herbert, " I publish my experience of the 
Crimean Campaign, and my suggestions for improvement, 
unless there has been a fair and tangible pledge by that time 
for reform." 


Miss Nightingale's exasperation was increased by the 
attitude of the Government towards the report of the 
"Chelsea Board." The McNeill - Tulloch affaire, which 
filled a large space in public attention at the time, requires 
only a brief notice here ; the dramatic aspect of the now 
forgotten scene at Chelsea is admirably presented by King- 
lake who, however, is not to be accepted as an unbiased 
authority on the merits of the dispute. ^ Sir John McNeill 
and Colonel Tulloch, it will be remembered, ^ had been sent 
out to the East in 1855 to inquire into the transport and 
commissariat arrangements of the campaign. Their Report, 
issued in January 1856, was the one official document among 
the pile produced by the Crimean War which brought re- 
sponsibility directly home to specified individuals. Every 
one remembers the story of Lord Melbourne's protest 
when he had accidentally heard a rousing evangelical sermon 
with a direct " application " : " Things have come to a 
pretty pass," he said, " when religion is allowed to invade the 
sphere of private life." Something of the same indignant 
remonstrance was rife when a Report on the Crimean muddle 
presumed to invade the sphere of personal responsibility. 

1 In chap. ix. of vol. vi. Kinglake accepts the finding of the Chelsea 
Board as the last word on the dispute. For the other side, see Sir Alex- 
ander TuUoch's Crimean Commission and the Chelsea Board, 2nd ed., with 
preface by Sir John McNeill {1880). 

^ See above, p. 257. 


The impugned officers raised an outcry, and the Government 
appointed an examining Board of other officers to report on 
the Report which had reported them. This Board — called 
after the " Chelsea " Hospital where it sat — removed all 
blame from individuals, and found in July 1856 that the 
true cause of the Crimean muddle was the failure of the 
Treasury to send out, at the proper moment, a particular 
consignment of pressed hay. Miss Nightingale had many a 
gibe at this ridiculous mouse ; and, many years later. Sir 
John McNeill rebuked " the levity " which referred " the 
fatal privations so heroically endured by the troops to so 
ludicrously inadequate a cause." ^ Some months were next 
occupied in the drafting, by the Treasury officials, of an 
explanation of the regrettable incident of the hay. The 
Government acquiesced, and the affair seemed to be over. 
And so it would have been, but for two factors — the press 
and public opinion. The Times led a spirited attack upon 
the Chelsea Board, and public opinion espoused the cause of 
Sir John McNeill and Colonel Tulloch. Their Report had 
been set aside, and Lord Panmure had omitted even to 
thank them for their labours. Sir John remained con- 
temptuously silent, but Colonel Tulloch, who was of a 
warmer temper, was vigorous in self-defence and rejoinder. 
In several large towns sympathy was expressed with the 
slighted Com.missioners — a movement which Miss Nightin- 
gale and her family, through friends in various places, did 
something to advance. Complimentary addresses were sent 
to the Commissioners from the Mayor and Citizens of Bath, 
of Birmingham, of Liverpool, of Manchester and of Preston, 
as also from the Company of Merchants of the City of 
Edinburgh. 2 Noting this movement of public opinion, 
which was beginning to be reflected in the House of Commons, 
Lord Panmure bethought himself of doing something. His 
expedient was signally ill-judged. He had " the honour to 
acquaint " the Commissioners " that Her Majesty's Govern- 
ment have decided to mark the services rendered by you in 
the discharge of your duties in the Crimea, by tendering to 

^ Preface to Tulloch's Crimean Commission, etc., 1880, p. xiii. 

^ For these addresses, see a pamphlet printed at Edinburgh in 1857, 
entitled Addresses Presented to Sir John McNeill, G.C.B., and Colonel 
Tulloch, with their Answers. 

VOL. I " Z 


each of you the sum of £1000." This pecuniary estimate of 
their services was promptly refused by each of them. " To 
accept it," wrote Mrs. TuUoch, " is almost the only thing I 
could not pardon in my husband, but, thank God, he feels as I 
do on the sub j ect . " Miss Nightingale was equally indignant , 
but her political instinct was not at fault. " I am glad," she 
wrote in reply to Mrs. Tulloch (Feb. 20), " that they have 
been such/00/s ! I am sure the British Lion will sympathise 
in this insult, and if it does not, then it is a degraded beast." 
She proceeded to rouse the beast. She told Mr. Herbert 
about the Government's offer, and he concurred in her view. 
It was decided to raise the whole subject in the House of 
Commons. On March 12, 1857, Mr. Herbert moved a 
Humble Address to the Crown praying that Her Majesty 
might be pleased to confer some signal mark of favour upon 
Sir John McNeill and Colonel Tulloch. The Prime Minister, 
noting the course of the debate, accepted the motion, 
which was agreed to without a division. " Victory ! " wrote 
Miss Nightingale in her diary ; " Milnes came in to tell us." 
She thought she had lost in her round with Lord Panmure 
about Colonel Tulloch (above, p. 331) ; but she won after all. 
He was created K.C.B., and Sir John, who was already 
G.C.B., was sworn of the Privy Council. This episode, 
which in its initial stages exasperated Miss Nightingale so 
much that she was half inclined to throw up the fight, ended 
by giving her fresh spirit and encouragement. Her mot 
d'ordre had come true : the " Bison " had proved bullyable — 
by parliamentary pressure. " I direct my letter," she wrote 
to the now Right Honourable Sir John McNeill (May 12), 
" with a great deal of pleasure. I consider that you and Sir 
Alexander Tulloch have been borne on the arms of the 
people — a much higher triumph than a mere gift of honours 
by the Crown. The poor Crown has been worsted. I am 
sorry for it. But it was not our fault." ^ 

^ Twenty years later another reparation was made. Sir Theodore 
Martin, in his Life of the Prince Consort, had taken an unfavourable view 
of the McNeill-Tulloch report. In the fifth edition he revised the passage. 
" It is almost more than we could have hoped," wrote Lady Tulloch, in 
telhng Miss Nightingale of the revision ; "I say we, knowing how much 
interest you took in the matter." " I give you joy," rephed Miss Nightin- 
gale (Feb. 23, 1878) ; " I give you both joy, for this crowning recognition 
of one of the noblest labours ever done on earth. You yourself cannot 



It was her friend Mr. Milnes who had suggested that Miss 
Nightingale should go a little outside her " Cabinet " and 
increase her influence by extending the range of her parlia- 
mentary acquaintances. " Before the Estimates come on," 
he had written (Feb. 1857), " yo^ should surely have some 
people in the House who know what you want." And again : 
" You should know Lord Stanley ; he is the best man you 
could get in the House in whatever you wish to be done. 
Come and dine with him here on Sunday." Mr. Milnes was 
right about Lord Stanley.^ His public appreciation of Miss 
Nightingale has been mentioned already. He was not 
enthusiastic about many persons or things, but Miss Night- 
ingale and her work were among the number. On now 
making her personal acquaintance, he sat, as it were, at her 
feet ; he told her that he lived in hopes of being allowed to 
receive " future instructions " from her ; he sent her early 
copies of papers and bills likely to interest her, and asked 
questions in the House of Commons which she suggested. 
When presently he became a Secretary for State they were 
to be associated in important work. 

Miss Nightingale, for all her impetuosity of spirit, had 
plenty of tact, and knew how to adjust the means to her 

cling to it more than I do : hardly so much in one sense, for I saw how 
Sir John McNeill and Sir A. Tulloch's reporting was the salvation of the 
Army in the Crimea. Without them everything that happened would 
have been considered ' all right.' ... I look back upon those twenty 
years as if they were yesterday, but also as if they were a thousand years. 
Success be with us and the noble dead." A copy of this letter was sent 
to Sir John McNeill, who replied (March 25) : " It was kind of you to copy 
it for me. There is no one, dead or alive, whose testimony I could value 
so highly with regard to the matters in question as I do Miss Florence 
Nightingale's. Her favourable opinion is very precious to me, not only 
because she knew more, and was intellectually more capable of forming 
a correct judgment than any one else who visited that strange scene, but 
because my regard and affection for her is such as would make it very 
painful to me to find that she had reason to think in any degree less favour- 
ably of our services than she did formerly. Her letter is very character- 
istic, and therefore to me very precious." 

1 Better known to the world as the 15th Earl of Derby ; Secre- 
tary of State for India (1858-9) ; Foreign Secretary (1867-8) ; Foreign 
Secretary under Disraeli (1874—8) ; Colonial Secretary under Gladstone 


several ends. In the spring of 1857, ^^ expeditionary force 
was being dispatched to China, and she was very anxious 
that the health of her " children," the British troops, should 
be better cared for than it was, at sea or on land, in the 
Crimean Campaign. Her ally, Sir James Clark, was on 
friendly terms with her opponent. Dr. Andrew Smith. So 
she used her ally to coax her enemy. " I had a very satis- 
factory conversation with Dr. Smith," reported Sir James. 
" I find he has attended to almost everything I suggested — 
the ventilation of the ships, the diet of the troops ; and they 
are to have fresh meat and vegetables during the whole 
voyage and while on the station when it is possible. Nothing 
seems to be forgotten or neglected on Smith's part, and the 
Duke of Cambridge backed our recommendations. So that 
the disasters of the Crimea are already telling for the benefit 
of the soldiers." 

In the fight over the Netley Hospital, Miss Nightingale 
was defeated by Lord Panmure on the main issue ; but she 
had some success in minor matters ; and, though on the main 
issue she lost in the particular case, she won the day for the 
future. She was a pioneer in this country in advocating the 
" pavilion " system of hospital construction, which she had 
studied in France. Well-known examples of it are the 
Herbert Hospital at Woolwich, and St. Thomas's at West- 
minster. The plans for the Netley Hospital, which Lord 
Panmure sent her, were laid on the old " corridor " lines, and 
she instantly condemned the plans on that and other grounds. 
Into this cause, as into everything that she took up, she 
flung herself with full energy. She consulted all the best 
authorities, she collected information at home and abroad, 
she drew up memoranda, she prepared alternative plans. 
Lord Panmure did not dispute that her alternative might, in 
the abstract, be better, but pleaded that in this case the cost 
of alteration, now that the foundations were already laid, 
would be too great. Besides, there were susceptibilities — 
his own and other people's — to be considered. Miss Nightin- 
gale thereupon appealed to the Prime Minister. " If Miss 
Nightingale's suggestions are good," he wrote to Lord 
Panmure (Nov. 30, 1856), " it will be worth while to alter our 
intended arrangement of the building rather than have an 


imperfect Hospital." ^ Determining to press her advantage. 
Miss Nightingale went down to Embley in the Christmas 
vacation, and dined and slept at Broadlands. How great 
was the impression she made upon Lord Palmerston is 
shown by the peremptory letter which he next addressed to 
Lord Panmure (Jan. 17). It has been printed in extenso 
elsewhere ^ ; and a sentence or two will here suffice. " I am 
bound to say she has left on my mind at present a conviction 
that the plan is fundamentally wrong, and that it would be 
better to pull down and rebuild all that has been built. She 
brought hither the ground-plan and elevation of the proposed 
Netley Hospital, and the ground-plan of the last new Military 
Hospital at Paris, which she says has been adopted as the 
model for the Hospital at Aldershot." (The reader will note, 
I doubt not. Miss Nightingale's diplomatic touch ; she only 
asked Lord Panmure to do at Netley what he himself was 
doing at Aldershot.) " It seems to me," continued Lord 
Palmerston most characteristically, " that at Netley all 
consideration of what would best tend to the comfort and 
recovery of the patients has been sacrificed to the vanity 
of the architect, whose sole object has been to make a build- 
ing which should cut a dash when looked at from the 
Southampton River. . , . Pray, therefore, for the present, 
stop all further progress in the work till the matter can be 
duly considered." But even the most peremptory of Prime 
Ministers are not all-powerful. Lord Panmure immediately 
replied that the step ordered by his Chief " would involve us 
in great difficulties, as it would entail a rupture of all our 
extensive contracts, not to mention the reflections which it 
must cast on all concerned in the planning of those designs 
on which we have worked. . . . Many of Miss Nightingale's 
suggestions in the Report signed by herself and Dr. Suther- 
land can be carried out by alterations, but the total abandon- 
ment of the plan will be a most serious affair." ^ It appears 
from Miss Nightingale's papers that the War Office's estimate 
of the cost was £70,000 ; and these 70,000 reasons, combined 
with the argument from amour propre, caused Lord Panmure 
to win. Though ever reluctant to acknowledge defeat till 

^ Panmure Papers, vol. ii. p. 321. * Ibid. vol. ii. pp. 332-4. 

^ Ibid. vol. ii. p. 338. 


she had fired her last shot, Miss Nightingale knew when she 
was finally beaten on one ground and she then made a stand 
on another. Foiled in her attempt to improve the Hospital 
root and branch, she used in good part the opportunities 
which Lord Panmure gave her of patching up " the patient," 
as she called it, so far as was still possible. The corridor was 
thrown more open ; more window-space was given to the 
wards ; borrowed lights and odd corners were abolished ; 
the appurtenances were separated ; and the ventilation was 
improved. 1 With regard to the future. Miss Nightingale in 
her private Report, and in almost identical words the Royal 
Commission in its public Report, recommended " that all 
plans for the original construction of Hospitals be submitted 
to competent sanitary authorities before such plans are 
finally approved," and "that all new Hospitals be constructed 
in separate pavilions, in order to prevent a large number of 
sick from being agglomerated under one roof." This recom- 
mendation was stoutly opposed by medical officers of the 
old school. " Poor Andrew Smith," wrote Mr. Herbert 
during a sitting of the Royal Commission, " swallowed some 
bitter pills to-day, including Pavilions." The bitter pill, 
administered by Miss Nightingale, is now the recognized 
prescription in the building of Hospitals. 


This fight for the pavilion was only an incident in Miss 
Nightingale's work during the latter part of 1856 and earher 
part of 1857. Her main work was preparation for the Royal 
Commission. This involved heavy correspondence, many 
travels, and close application. Until August 1857, she resided 
principally in London, at the Burlington Hotel ; but in the 
spring she had spent some weeks, within easy distance of 
London, at Combe Hurst, the home of her uncle and aunt, 
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Smith ; and in April, a fortnight in 
Edinburgh, in order to confer with Sir John McNeill. She 
prepared for the Royal Commission by writing her own 
Report. The suggestion had been made at Balmoral in 
October 1856 ; but Lord Panmure, who seldom did to-day 

1 Panmure Papers, vol. U. pp. 401, 405. 


what could be put off till to-morrow, did not write his official 
instructions until February 1857. In asking her " further 
assistance and advice," he said : " Your personal experience 
and observation, during the late War, must have furnished 
you with much important information relating not only to 
the medical care and treatment of the sick and wounded, 
but also to the sanatory requirements of the Army generally." 
She had, it will be observed, carried her point, that the 
Report was to be of general scope. " I now have the honour 
to ask you," continued the letter, " to favour me with the 
results of that experience, on matters of so much importance 
to Her Majesty's Army. I need hardly add that, should you 
do so, they will meet with the most attentive consideration, 
and that I shall endeavour to further, so far as it lies in 
my power, the large and generous views which you entertain 
on this important subject." 

The Report which Miss Nightingale wrote in response 
to this request — entitled Notes affecting the Health, 
Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army 
— is, I suppose, the least known, but it is the most re- 
markable, of her works. It is little known because it was 
never published. As in the end she extracted a Royal 
Commission from Lord Panmure, and as the Commission was 
followed by practical measures, she did not feel the necessity 
of appealing to the public. The War Office itself did not 
print her Report, and thus it never became generally known 
how much of the Report of the subsequent Royal Com- 
mission, and how many of the administrative reforms 
consequent upon it, were in fact the work of Miss Nightin- 
gale. But at her own expense she printed the Notes for 
private circulation among influential people, and upon all 
who read it the work created, as well it might, a profound 
impression. Kinglake describes it as "a treasury of 
authentic statement and wise disquisition, affording a com- 
plete elucidation of the causes which had brought about 
failure, whilst also showing the means by which, in the wars 
of the future, our country might best hope to compass the 
truly sacred task of providing for the health of its troops." ^ 
Sir John McNeill, who read the proofs of the Notes as they 

^ Vol. vi. p. 367. 


passed through the press, was impressed equally with the 
vigour of the style and the cogency of the reasoning. " Be 
assured," he wrote, " that the Report will detract nothing 
from your reputation but, on the contrary, that it will greatly 
add to it, and make it very plain why you have been placed 
where you stand in the estimation of the country. No other 
person could have written it." Of another batch of the 
proofs, he said : " It flows on so naturally, it gives so clearly 
the impression of being the genuine expression of earnest 
conviction, it has so much the character of good, sincere 
enlightened conversation on a subject which is thoroughly 
understood and appreciated, and so little the appearance of 
having been ' got up ' or of pretension of any kind, literary or 
artistic, that you ought to be very cautious how you alter it 
in any respect that would at all detract from the unambitious 
and perfectly natural, but, at the same time, clear and 
vigorous, enunciation of important truths and wise pro- 
positions." And again : " It does not signify much what 
Lord Panmure thinks or proposes or objects to. You have 
set up a Landmark which neither he nor any other man or 
body of men can remove. Permanent progress has been 
made, though but small, and your ideas and plans will be 
pirated and claimed as their own by men who now disparage 
them." When the book was finally printed, and a copy of 
the volume sent to him. Sir John McNeill thought the same. 
" A few days ago," he wrote (Nov. i8, 1858), " I read a 
passage to one of the most admired essayists of our time ^ 
without telling him what I was reading from. When I had 
done he said, ' That is perfect, whose is that ? ' I bade him 
guess. He said, ' There are not many men in England who 
could have done it. I think I know them all, but I cannot 
quite bring it home with confidence to any of them. It 
may be some new writer.' I said it was, and then I told 
him who it was. So much for the manner of the thing, 
which you care little about. But for the matter : after a 
very careful study of the whole, I am fully satisfied that it 
is a mine of facts and inferences which will furnish materials 

^ Perhaps Abraham Hayward ; see his opinion of Miss Nightingale's 
writing, quoted below, p. 408. The passage read out by Sir J. McNeill 
may have been that cited above, p. 242 ; or perhaps that cited on p. 317. 


for every scheme that is hkely to be built up on that ground 
for several generations. No man or woman can henceforth 
pretend to deal with the subject without mastering these 
volumes and, if honest, without referring to them. . . . Re- 
garded as a whole, I think it contains a body of information 
and instruction, such as no one else so far as I know has ever 
brought to bear upon any similar subject. I regard it as a 
gift to the Army, and to the country altogether priceless." 
These estimates, given respectively by the literary his- 
torian of the Crimean War and by the man of affairs who 
had probed most deeply into the Crimean muddle, will be 
confirmed, I am confident, by any competent reader of Miss 
Nightingale's Notes. '^ The wide range of the book, and its 
mastery of detail on a great variety of subjects, are as re- 
markable as its firm and consistent grasp of general principles. 
The key-note is struck in the Preface. The question of Army 
Hospitals is shown to be part of wider questions involving the 
health and efficiency of the Army at large. Defects, similar 
to those which occasioned so high a rate of mortality among 
the sick in Hospital during the war, were the cause why so 
many healthy men came into Hospital at all. Those who 
fell before Sebastopol by disease were above seven times the 
number of those who fell by the enemy. A large number fell 
from preventable causes ; but the causes could only be pre- 
vented in the future by the adoption of new systems. The 
bad health of the British Army in peace was shown to be 
hardly less appalling than was the mortality during the 
Crimean War. The only way to prevent a recurrence of such 
disasters was to improve the sanitary conditions of the 
soldier's life during peace, and during peace to organize and 
maintain General Hospitals in practical efficiency. The 
necessity of reorganization, and the application of sanitary 
science to the Army generally, are the two principles of 
which Miss Nightingale never loses sight in any of the 

^ This opinion is supported by an estimate of the Notes in a paper 
which came into my hands as this book was going to press. " This work 
(the Notes) constitutes in my opinion one of the most valuable contribu- 
tions ever made to hospital organization and administration in time of 
war. Had the conclusions which she reached been heeded in the Civil War 
in America or in the Boer War in South Africa, or in the Spanish- American 
War, hundreds of thousands of lives might have been saved " {Hurd, as 
cited in Bibliography B, No. 47, p. 76). 

346 WIDE RANGE OF THE " NOTES " pt. m 

branches of her subject. There is an Introductory Chapter 
giving the history of the health of the British armies in 
previous campaigns, and the book then contains twenty 
sections. The first six of these deal under different heads 
with the medical history of the Crimean War. Then come 
three sections dealing with the organization of Regimental 
and General Hospitals. The remainder of the book takes 
wider scope, discussing, in succession, the Need of Sanitary 
Officials in connection with the Army ; the Necessity of a 
Statistical Department ; the Education, Employment and 
Promotion of Medical Officers ; Soldiers' Pay and Stoppages ; 
the Dieting and Cooking of the Army ; the Commissariat ; 
Washing and Canteens ; Soldiers' Wives ; the Construction 
of Army Hospitals ; and the Mortality of Armies in Peace 
and War. A twentieth section gives, after the manner of 
Royal Commissions, a summary of Defects and Suggestions. 
There are also various Appendices, Supplementary Notes, 
Diagrams and Illustrations. The first volume of the book 
consists of 830 octavo pages, some numbered in Roman 
numerals. The pages thus numbered were an after-thought. 
The main body of the book was ready for press in August 
1857, but it was not desirable that the Nightingale Report 
should forestall, even in private circulation, the publication 
of the Royal Commission's Report. A final appendix to the 
latter Report contained a mass of official correspondence on 
the care of the sick and wounded during the Crimean War. 
Miss Nightingale pounced upon this, and prefixed to several 
of her sections a classified abstract of the principal docu- 
ments. " A masterly analysis," wrote Sir John McNeill, 
when she sent him the proofs ; " it is conclusive, because it 
is quite fair, and nothing could be more fatal to false preten- 
sion." Sometimes Miss Nightingale could not deny herself 
an ironical comment ^ ; but the mere collocation of facts and 
utterances, as she arranged them, in deadly parallel, is more 
effective even than her sarcasm. 

Lord Panmure's instructions to Miss Nightingale of 
February 1857 were afterwards supplemented by a request 
that she would submit a Confidential Report on " The 
Introduction of Female Nursing into Military Hospitals 

^ See the passage quoted above, p. 288. 


in Peace and in War." The request had an amusing sequel. 
" You directed me last week," she wrote to Lord Pan- 
mure (May 3), "to make suggestions to yourself as to 
the organization of Female Nursing in Army Hospitals. 
The Director-General, Army Medical Department, directed, 
last week, the expulsion of all female nurses but two from 
the Woolwich Artillery Hospitals. ... I have a little 
pencil composition, to be ' dedicated, with permission, to 
your Lordship,' exhibiting the order emanating from the 
Secretary of State to introduce nurses, and a simultaneous 
order from the Army Medical Board to turn them out. I 
enclose a memorandum (merely tentative and experimental) 
as to the duties of nurses. I cannot expect the Secretary 
of State to enter into the details. Perhaps I may ask to 
hear his decision as to the ultimate steps to be taken." ^ 
The tentative memorandum was afterwards expanded 
into a treatise, forming the second volume (pp. 184) of the 
Notes. Its title — Subsidiary Notes as to the Introduction of 
Female Nursing into Military Hospitals in Peace and War — 
hardly describes the scope of the volume, which is, in fact 
almost a treatise on Nursing at large. " I read the Sub- 
sidiary Notes first," wrote Mrs. Gaskell (Dec. 31, 1858). 
" It was so interesting I could not leave it. I finished it at 
one long morning sitting — hardly stirring between breakfast 
and dinner. I cannot tell you how much I like it, and 
for such numbers of reasons. First, because you know of a 
varnish which is as good or better than black-lead for grates ^ 
(only I wonder what it is). Next because of the little sen- 
tences of real deep wisdom which from their depth and true 
foundation may be real helps in every direction and to every 
person ; and for the quiet continual devout references to 
God which make the book a holy one." 

As the work of a single hand, and that the hand of a 
woman in delicate health, the writing of Miss Nightingale's 
Notes on the British Army, in the space of six months, is an 
astonishing tour deforce. Only the most intense application, 
assisted by great power of brain and will, could have accom- 

1 Panmure, vol. ii. p. 381, where, in following pages, the Memorandum 
is also printed. 

^ " Even black-lead is unnecessary, as a varnish now obtainable looks 
better," Subsidiary Notes, p. 22. 


plished it. She had no staff of secretaries. Mr. Arthur 
Hugh Clough, then employed in the Education Office, gave 
her some help, out of office hours, with the proofs ; and her 
faithful Aunt Mai did some copying and correspondence. 
But for the most part everything was written in her own 
hand, and not for one moment did she allow herself any 
relaxation. Nor were the Notes the only work of the same 
months. She prepared also (with some assistance from Mr. 
Bracebridge), and issued, in 1857, the masterly Statement to 
Subscribers which has been quoted frequently in the fore- 
going Part of this Memoir. " Why do you do all this," 
wrote Mr. Herbert (Jan. 16), "with your own hands? I 
wish you could be turned into a cross-country squire like me 
for a few weeks." 

One peculiar advantage Miss Nightingale enjoyed in the 
preparation of her Notes, which, however, added as greatly to 
her labour as to their effectiveness and authority. Experts 
of many kinds were willing and eager to help her. There 
were in all branches of the public service broad-minded men 
who knew alike the needs and the difficulties of reform, and 
who recognized in her an invaluable ally. Just as in the 
East, reformers in difficulty " went to Miss Nightingale," so 
now officials and officers — some openly, others with careful 
secrecy — approached her with hints and offers of assistance, 
or sometimes with petition that she would come and help 
them. Thus Sir John Liddell, Director-General of the Navy 
Medical Department, hearing what was on foot, begged her 
" to take up the sailors," and to " introduce female nurses 
into naval hospitals." She inspected Haslar Hospital at his 
request (Jan. 1857), and he consulted her on the plans for 
a Naval Hospital at Woolwich. " I return with many 
thanks," he wrote (Feb. 17), " your very clever Report on 
the Construction of Hospitals [a section of her Notes], from 
which I mean to profit largely in both our new and old build- 
ings ; but as you have only allowed me the privilege of read- 
ing your Report privately, I trust that when you see your 
notions carried out in our Hospitals you will not reproach me 
with being a plagiarist without conscience." Sir John in 


return supplied her with facts which she needed about naval 
stores, dietaries, and statistics. He also escorted her on a 
visit of inspection to Chatham, a military, as well as a naval, 
station. She was received on all sides with the utmost 
consideration, and a Military Medical Officer gave her free 
access to everything. Dr. Andrew Smith was exceeding 
wrath when he learnt that she had been prying into his 
domain there. The Medical Of&cer wrote to her explaining 
that he had misunderstood the case, imagining that her visit 
had official sanction on the military, as well as on the naval 
side, and begging her, in fear and trembling, to treat every- 
thing he had said and shown as strictly secret. The main 
object of her inspection of Barracks and Hospitals was to 
collect data for her Report, but sometimes she was able to 
effect a stroke of reform by the way and at once. She 
was invited to inspect Chelsea Military Hospital by Dr. 
McLachlan, the Principal Medical Officer. She went, 
marked many defects, and wrote to him on the subject. He 
concurred in what she said, explained that " reform moves 
slowly in old establishments, obstruction coming from sources 
least expected," and hoped that she might be able to 
exercise " a little pressure from without." The chairman of 
the Board was Mr. Robert Lowe, at that time Vice-President 
of the Board of Trade and Paymaster-General. She sought 
an introduction to Mr. Lowe, who " had much pleasure in 
calling upon her." The sequel is told in a letter from Dr. 
McLachlan : "If you have not already been made ac- 
quainted with it, I am sure you will be glad to learn that all 
the really important points mentioned in your letter to me 
some time ago have been conceded. Mr. Lowe's persever- 
ance carried the Treasury. The men are to have flannel 
vests and drawers, knives, forks, spoons, plates, &c., &c." 
And Mr. Lowe himself, who could be soft sometimes, wrote 
to her with regard to " the improvements which you were 
good enough to suggest," that he was " happy to believe 
that the flannel is a very great comfort to the poor old men." 
Many Crimean veterans were afterwards Chelsea pensioners, 
and I have given some of their recollections of Miss Nightin- 
gale in an earlier chapter. They probably did not know 
that they owed their hospital comforts at home to the same 


woman's touch that had tended them at Scutari or in the 
Crimea. Miss Nightingale, during these months, inspected 
also the leading Civil Hospitals in London. Many of them 
had appointed her an Honorary Life Governor in recognition 
of her services during the war. 

Military officers also tendered their assistance. " Ask 
questions," says a letter from Wellington Barracks addressed 
to a friend of Miss Nightingale, " until you arrive at what you 
want. It is a pleasure to assist that excellent lady in her 
noble work " : "I was quite charmed," wrote an officer from 
Aldershot, " with the opportunity of again communicating 
with Miss Nightingale. She is the most single-minded and 
benevolent person I ever met, and is truly the wonder of her 
sex. Do, pray, convey to her my desire to place my humble 
services and experience at her disposal whenever and how- 
ever she may desire." Within the War Office itself, she had 
influential friends. Sir Henry Storks was in frequent corre- 
spondence with her, and sent for her criticism drafts of new 
Regulations. Colonel Lefroy had, in accordance with her 
suggestion,^ been instructed by Lord Panmure to draft a 
Scheme for a School of Military Medicine and Surgery. 
Miss Nightingale's notes on this Draft (Nov. 1856) include 
suggestions which might have come from some Royal Com- 
mission of our own day. She urges that the Board of 
Examiners should consist of the teachers. She suggests 
that the teachers in hospitals should not be doctors of 
eminence ; "a man with an eminent practice rarely be- 
comes an eminent teacher ; many good men may be found 
to take the position of teachers at a moderate salary." 
She forestalled the idea of Imperial inter-change, of which 
the War Office of to-day says much. " A most important 
part of this School," she writes, would be to afford oppor- 
tunities for study and comparison to Medical Officers 
from the Colonies. Like Dr. McLachlan at Chelsea, Colonel 
Lefroy at the War Office sometimes " came to Miss Nightin- 
gale." He told her of a certain military hospital which was 
very much overcrowded. The Principal Medical Officer had 
represented the case to Headquarters and demanded extra 
accommodation, but in vain : "a letter from Miss Night- 

^ See above, p. 330. 


ingale might lead to better things." Colonel Lefroy was 
helpful in another matter. Miss Nightingale was a pioneer, 
as we have heard during the account of her work in the East, 
in devising means for encouraging the better employment of 
the private soldier's leisure, and for promoting his intelligent 
recreation. And this effort, commenced by her among the 
soldiers on service during the Crimean War, was continued 
upon her return to England. To the initiative and gener- 
osity of Florence Nightingale, the establishment of soldiers' 
reading-rooms is due. Her friend, Mr. Sabin, who had been 
the principal chaplain at Scutari, was now stationed at 
Aldershot, and Miss Nightingale concerted measures with 
him for continuing there the experiment which they had 
made in the East.^ After much negotiation, permission 
was obtained from the military authorities to use one of 
the canteens as a reading-room, and on June 17, 1857, 
" Divisional Reading-Room, H Canteen, Aldershot Camp " 
was opened. The funds were provided by Miss Nightingale. 
The experiment was so much appreciated by the soldiers 
that she determined to enlarge it. She invoked the good 
offices of Colonel Lefroy, who wrote to her on August 
19 as follows : "A propitious moment offered itself 
yesterday, and I asked the Chief whether I was at liberty 
to accept the offer of ' a private person ' to contribute to 
the amusement of the Soldiers, and the improvement of 
their Reading-rooms. He laughed, having probably a 
shrewd suspicion of the identity of the unknown, and gave 
leave. I am now therefore quite at your service. . . . 
There will be no difficulty in finding means of applying any 
funds you will supply, and I have but one regret in the 
matter, viz. that a duty so essential to the moral improve- 
ment of the soldier should be left to private benevolence. 
I should like to print Milton's IXth Sonnet ^ on everything 
you give us." Miss Nightingale herself had no taste for 

1 See above, p. 281. 

^ To a Virtuous Young Lady : — 

Lady, that in the prime of earliest youth 

Wisely hast shunned the broad way and the green. 
And with those few art eminently seen 
That labour up the hill of heavenly Truth, 
The better part with Mary and with Ruth 

Chosen thou hast, etc. etc. ■• 


publicity or praise. She loved to do good by stealth, and 
most of her influence was exerted behind the scenes. 

Statisticians, sanitary engineers, architects, and other 
experts were all in correspondence or personal communica- 
tion with Miss Nightingale during the preparation of her 
Report. Dr. William Farr, the first authority on the former 
subject, was at work with her in January and February 1857 
upon comparisons of the mortality in the army and in civil 
life. " It will always give me the greatest pleasure," he 
wrote, " to render you any assistance I can in promoting the 
health of the Army. We shall ask your assistance in return 
in the attempts that are now being made to improve the 
health of the civil population. It is in the House and the 
Home that sound principles will work most salutarily." 
Later chapters will show how readily Miss Nightingale lent 
assistance in that field. When she had finished the statistical 
section of her Report, she sent the proofs with her illustrative 
diagrams for Dr. Farr's revision. He found nothing to alter. 
" This speech," he wrote, " is the best that ever was written 
on Diagrams or on the Army. I can only express my 
Opinion briefly in ' Demosthenes himself with the facts 
before him could not have written .or thundered better.' 
The details appear to me to be quite correct." He specially 
commended her diagrams for the clearness with which they 
explained themselves. She was something of a pioneer in 
the graphic method of statistical presentation. In every 
branch of her inquiry she was equally thorough ; consulting 
the best authorities, collecting the essential facts. She was 
in communication with Sir Robert RawHnson and Sir 
Edwin Chadwick, and with Sir John J ebb, the architect of 
model prisons. She collected plans of all the best hospitals 
and infirmaries in Great Britain and on the Continent. She 
consulted Professor Christison on dietetics, and procured 
dietaries from foreign hospitals. She corresponded with 
Army Surgeons whom she had met in the East, and with 
Army chaplains and missionaries. The feeling which fellow- 
workers had for Miss Nightingale appears characteristically in 
a note from Sir Robert RawHnson to her aunt (1858). " To 
have earned the good word of Miss N. is most gratifying. I 
trust I may deserve a continuance of it. I learn with sorrow 


that her health is so doubtful, but I have a full and abiding 
faith in the providence of God. She has sown seed that 
will give a full harvest, and mankind will be better for her 
practical labours to the end of time. Hospitals will be con- 
structed according to her wise arrangements, and they will 
be managed in conformity with her humane rules. One 
man in the army will be more useful than two formerly, and 
reason will preside over comfort and health. So far as my 
weak means extend I will strive to work in the same field, 
and do that which in me lies to embody the lessons I have 
received." "It is very pretty," wrote her sister to 
Madame Mohl (May 2, '57), " to see these wise old men 
so profoundly convinced of her knowledge as well as of 
her disinterestedness, and looking up at her with such a 
mixture of reverence and tenderness, of desire that she 
should not overwork herself, and of desire that she should do 
the work which she alone can do so well." " You cannot 
think what it is," wrote her sister to another friend, " to 
watch a great mind like hers fully at work and fully equal 
to that great work. To see each emergency as it arises met 
and conquered, to see in her great plans for reform and 
improvement, how even each hindrance only seems to give 
a fresh impetus of power to overcome (if my heart was not 
in each move of the game it would be like watching a gigantic 
game of chess, whereof the pawns were men and the result 
the lives of thousands) ; how she collects the honey out of 
each man's information and binds it up into the whole that 
is to carry on the work." Miss Nightingale's Notes were 
her own work in a peculiar degree and, as Sir John McNeill 
said, no one else could have done it. But it is also true 
that the book collects from many quarters the best that 
was known and thought at the time on the subjects with 
which it deals. 


Miss Nightingale's own Report was more than half 
finished when the long-promised and long-delayed Royal 
Commission on the same subject was appointed. The 
importunity of Mr. Herbert and Miss Nightingale had at last 
" brought the Bison to bay." On April 26 she received the 

VOL. I 2 A 


welcome intimation that Lord Panmure would call at the 
Burlington Hotel on the following day with the Official 
Draft of the Instructions for the Commission. She suggested 
a few alterations, and these were accepted, and the docu- 
ments were sent for the Royal approval. Miss Nightingale 
kept a copy of the manuscript, and sent it to her friend. 
Dr. Graham Balfour, the secretary of the Commission. 
" Every one of the members of the Commission," she ex- 
plained to him (April 27), " was carried by force of will 
against Dr. Andrew Smith, and poor Pan has been the 
shuttlecock " ; and with regard to the Instructions, " You 
will see curious traces of the struggle to exclude and to in- 
clude all reform in the progress of the MS. I think I am 
not without merit for labouring at bullying Pan — a petty 
kind of warfare, very unpleasant." 

It throws an interesting side-light on the relation of 
Ministers to their subordinates to know, as appears from 
Miss Nightingale's papers, that Lord Panmure was careful 
to have the documents initialled by the Queen before sub- 
mitting them to Dr. Smith. To those who have delved into 
the history of the Crimean muddle, few things are more 
curious at first sight than the long ascendancy of Dr. Smith. 
Perhaps no one was to blame, but only the system ; but if 
any individuals were to blame for the medical defects, then 
surely the Medical Director-General must have been one. 
Lord Grey sent to Miss Nightingale a very long and elaborate 
Memorandum on her Notes. He admired the skill with 
which she marshalled the facts ; but maintained that the 
true conclusion to be drawn from them was not that radical 
reform was needed, but that several persons (including Dr. 
Smith) should have been court -martialled. I doubt if Miss 
Nightingale differed from the latter proposition. But in 
fact Dr. Smith was decorated, and when the war was over 
he was allowed for many months to obstruct the course of 
reform. The explanation, however, is simple. The per- 
manent head of a Department is a master of its detail, 
and if he be a man of any ability, this fact often gives him 
an ascendancy over his political chief. If the Minister be 
indolent, or incapable of detail, or for any other reason 
disposed to the line of least resistance, he becomes as clay 


in the hands of his permanent subordinate, whenever a 
matter comes down from generals to particulars. So Lord 
Panmure, at the final stage of this affair, took the precaution 
of baiTing out details. Dr. Smith, who was a pertinacious 
man, had, I dare say, many criticisms to offer when the 
Instructions for the Commission were shown to him. But, if 
so. Lord Panmure had a general and a conclusive answer. 
What the Queen had signed must not be altered. 

The Royal Warrant, instructing the Commission, was 
in very wide and comprehensive terms, and Mr. Herbert and 
his colleagues set to work without a day's delay. Six months 
had elapsed between his acceptance of the Chairmanship 
and the issue of the Royal Warrant. The Report of the 
Commission was prepared in precisely three months. To 
appreciate fully the industry which such a result involved, 
one must have looked into the mountainous mass of detail 
which the Commission accumulated and sifted. No praise 
can be too high for the unremitting attention, the incessant 
hard work which Mr. Herbert, as Chairman, threw into the 
task. But even so, such speed in the preparation of the 
Commission's Report would have been impossible, but that 
much of the ground had been already explored, and most 
of it exhaustively covered, by Miss Nightingale. In all 
Royal Commissions, as also in more august bodies, there is 
an Inner Cabinet, and sometimes an Innermost Cabinet as 
well. In the present case there was an Innermost Cabinet 
of three, and one of the three was not a member of the 
Commission — Mr. Herbert, Dr. Sutherland, and Miss Nightin- 
gale. There was no man so closely associated with Miss 
Nightingale's work for so many years, and in so many 
different directions, as Dr. John Sutherland. He was 
recognized as one of the leading sanitarians of the day. He 
had been an Inspector under the first Board of Health 
(1848), and had been employed by the Government in many 
special inquiries. As head of the Sanitary Commission sent to 
theCrimea in 1855, he had, as already stated, made MissNight- 
ingale's acquaintance, and from that time forth they were 
close colleagues. He served on almost every Commission, 
Sub-Commission, and Committee with which she had anything 
to do. If he was not nominated in the first list, she always 


insisted on his inclusion. He sometimes exasperated her, 
as we shall hear in later chapters, but they worked together 
in constant comradeship. He was, as it were, her Chief-of- 
the-Staff ; and also in large measure her Private Secretary 
for official matters. Upon Dr. Sutherland and Miss Nightin- 
gale the Chairman of the Royal Commission mainly relied. 
I have already quoted Mr. Herbert's general tribute to her 
assistance (p. 312). It is fully borne out by the evidence 
contained in her papers. 

Throughout the proceedings of the Commission, Miss 
Nightingale was in daily communication — personal, or by 
letter — with Mr. Herbert or Dr. Sutherland, or with both. 
I have before me, of this date, fifty letters from each of them 
to her. She was an unremitting task-master. " My dear 
Lady," wrote Dr. Sutherland one Friday (May 22), " do 
not be unreasonable. I fear your sex is much given to 
being so. I would have been with you yesterday, had I been 
able, but alas ! my will was stronger than my legs. I have 
been at the Commission to-day, and as yet there is nothing 
to fear. I was too much fatigued and too stupid to see you 
afterwards, but I intend coming to-morrow about 12 o'clock, 
and we can then prepare for the campaign of the coming 
week. There won't be much to do, as the Commission is 
going to the Derby, except your humble servant and Alex- 
ander, who, for the sake of example, are going to see Ports- 
mouth and Haslar to give evidence on both. We shall 
meet on Monday and Friday only. The Sanitary arguing 
goes on on both these days, and I hope to-morrow to be 
able to perform the coaching operation you desiderate, and 
as you don't go to church you can coach Mr. Herbert on 
Sunday. I have now sent you a Roland for your Oliver, 
and am ever yours faithfully." Of the letters from Mr. 
Herbert, written after the Commission was appointed, the 
first defines the position : " We must meet and agree our 
course." A few other brief extracts will fill in the sketch. 
" I am getting up the examinations ; does anything occur to 
you ? " "I send you Hall's correspondence. You know the 
matters treated with all the dates which I do not, and will see 
in them what I should not." He consults her about the order 
in which to call the witnesses, " or we shall seem to be always 


examining one another." He asks her to look into a com- 
parison of the mortahty among marines and sailors re- 
spectively. She secured on another subject some damning 
documents. " I return your stolen goods," he writes. 
" Pray keep them carefully. If ever we have to besiege the 
Army Medical Department, no Lancaster gun could be more 
formidable than this document ; it is really almost un- 
believable." " I should very much like to have a Cabinet 
Council with you to-day. Shall I come to you at 5 o'c, 
or would you come here ? " And so forth, and so forth, 
almost daily. But I can perhaps best convey an idea of 
the co-operation in terms of legal procedure. Miss Nightin- 
gale was the solicitor who gave instructions in the case to 
Mr. Herbert. As each branch of the inquiry came up, she 
sent him a memorandum upon it ; often, no doubt, a copy 
of her own Report on the same subject. She suggested the 
witnesses, and often saw them before they gave their evi- 
dence, in order, as it were, to take their proof. In the case 
of some important witnesses, she prepared the briefs for 
cross-examination, as well as examination. In June, Sir 
John Hall, whom the reader will remember as Principal 
Medical Officer in the Crimea, was to be in the box. " I 
have been asked," she wrote to Sir John McNeill (June 12), 
" to request you to give us some hints as to his examination, 
founded upon what you saw of him when in your hands. 
My own belief is that Hall is a much cleverer fellow than 
they take him for, almost as clever as Airey.^ and that he 
will consult his reputation in like manner, and perhaps give 
us very useful evidence, no thanks to him. ... I would 
only recall to your memory the long series of proofs of his 
incredible apathy, beginning with the fatal letter approving 
of Scutari, Oct. '54,2 continuing with all the negative 
errors of non-obtaining of Lime Juice, Fresh Bread, Quinine, 
etc., up to his not denouncing the effects of salt meat before 
you. . . . We do not want to badger the old man in his 

1 Richard, Lord Airey, Quartermaster-General to Crimean Army, 
1854-5, one of the officers vindicated by the Chelsea Board; Quarter- 
master-General, 1855-65. 

^ Dr. Hall had reported to Dr. Smith from Scutari (Oct. 20, 1854), 
with " much satisfaction," that " the whole Hospital estabhshment has 
now been put on a very creditable footing," etc. See Notes, p. 52. 


examination, which would do us no good and him harm. 
But we want to make the best out of him for our case. 
Please help us. I understand that Dr. Smith says he was 
much afraid of ' the Commission ' at first, and ' thought it 
would do harm.' But now ' thinks it is taking a good turn.' 
Is this for us or against us ? " Sir John McNeill thought 
" for us," and advised that Dr. Hall should " not be put too 
much on the defensive," but should be led in examination 
" to slip quietly into the current of reform as Dr. A. Smith 
seems from what you say to have done." Still, if he proved 
obdurate he must of course " be put in a corner " ; and 
so Sir John McNeill assisted the lady-solicitor to prepare 
posers for a possibly refractory witness. It was difficult, 
however, to be refractory with Mr. Herbert. " He was a 
man of the quickest and most accurate perception," she 
wrote of him in later years, " that I have ever known. Also 
he was the most sympathetic. His very manner engaged 
the most sulky and the most recalcitrant of witnesses. He 
never made an enemy or a quarrel in the Commission. He 
used to say, ' There takes two to be a quarrel, and I won't 
be one.' " Then, again, Miss Nightingale was always at 
Mr. Herbert's call to supply details, missing dates, and 
references. Every one familiar with the courts knows how 
even the ablest counsel will sometimes stumble ovei a date 
or fumble among his papers for a particular document, 
till a junior behind him or the solicitor in front of him 
comes to his rescue. That was another role played by 
Miss Nightingale, though behind the scenes. " Sidney is 
again in despair for you," wrote Mrs. Herbert ; " can you 
come ? You will say. Bless that man, why can't he leave 
me in peace ? But I am only obeying orders in begging 
for you." 

A difficulty arose upon the question whether Miss 
Nightingale should or should not give evidence herself. She 
was averse from doing so, and Sir John McNeill strongly 
supported her. In his paternal way he did not like the idea 
of her exposing herself to such a strain, and indeed her 
physical weakness at the time was great. In the present day 
she would of course, in like circumstances, have been made a 
member of the Royal Commission. In those days the idea of 


calling a woman as a witness caused some qualms. Her own 
objection was founded rather on regard for Mr. Herbert's 
susceptibilities. She could not tell the truth, the whole truth, 
and nothing but the truth without going into the past, and 
such evidence might seem to cast reflections on the conduct 
of her friend as Minister during the earlier part of the war. 
Mr. Herbert, however, brushed this point aside, and urged 
her to come and tell the whole truth. Her friend Mr. 
Stafford was yet more emphatic. " Let me entreat you," 
he wrote (June 11), " to reconsider your determination. 
You have done so much, you ought to do all. This is our 
last effort for the soldier. No one can aid us so well as you, 
and you can aid us so well in no other manner ; even if your 
opinions should offend some few individuals, the fault is 
theirs, not yours. The absence of your name from our list 
of witnesses will diminish the weight of our Report, and will 
give rise to unfounded rumours ; it will be said either that 
we were afraid of your evidence, and did not invite you to 
tender it, or that you made suggestions, the responsibility 
of which you were reluctant to incur in public." There was 
obvious force in Mr. Stafford's arguments, and it was decided 
that Miss Nightingale should give evidence in the form of 
written answers to written questions. Her evidence, which 
occupies thirty-three pages of the Blue-book, is in effect 
a condensed summary of her confidential Report. None 
of the evidence given to the Commission was more direct 
and cogent. " It may surprise many persons," wrote an 
army doctor at the time, " to find, from Miss Nightingale's 
evidence that, added to feminine graces, she possesses, not 
only the gift of acute perception, but that, on all the points 
submitted to her, she reasons with a strong, acute, most 
logical, and, if we may say so, masculine intellect, that may 
well shame some of the other witnesses. They maunder 
through their subjects as if they had by no means made up 
their minds on any one point — they would and they would 
not ; and they seem almost to think that two parallel roads 
may sometimes be made to meet, by dint of courtesy and 
good feeling, amiable motives that should never be trusted 
to in matters of duty. When you have to encounter un- 
couth, hydra-headed monsters of officialism and ineptitude, 


straight hitting is the best mode of attack. Miss Nightingale 
shows that she not only knows her subject, but feels it 
thoroughly. There is, in all that she says, a clearness, a 
logical coherence, a pungency and abruptness, a ring as 
of true metal, that is altogether admirable." ^ "I have 
perused with the greatest interest," wrote a member of 
the Commission (Sir J. R. Martin) to her, " your most con- 
clusive evidence now in circulation for the perusal of the 
Commissioners. It contains an assemblage of facts and 
circumstances which, taken throughout their entire extent, 
must prove of the most vital importance to the British 
soldier for ages to come." 


The Report of the Commission was written by Mr. 
Herbert in August 1857, with much assistance from Miss 
Nightingale. " A thousand thanks," he wrote to her (Aug. 
5). " The list of recommendations and defects is very 
clear and good. I have noted one or two additions." A 
comparison of the Recommendations at the end of Miss 
Nightingale's Report with those at the end of the Royal 
Commission's Report shows how closely the latter docu- 
ment followed the earlier. The Report was not issued to 
the public until January 1858. The reason for the delay is 
intimately connected with the story of Miss Nightingale's 
life during the latter half of 1857. The salient feature of the 
Report was its adoption and confirmation of the appalling 
figures which she had first tabulated many months before. 
" It is of infinite importance to the success of all you have 
still to accomplish," wrote Sir John McNeill (Nov. 9) when 
she sent him a proof of Mr. Herbert's Report, " that the 
accuracy of your statements as to the condition of the 
Barracks has been established beyond question. It deprives 
interested cavillers of all right to be listened to when they 
desire to question your other propositions." It was shown 
conclusively by the Royal Commission that, as Miss Nightin- 
gale had said, the rate of mortality in the Army at home 

^ The Army in its Medico-Sanitary Relations, p. 26. Edinburgh, 1859. 
Reprinted from the Edinburgh Medical Journal. The writer was Dr. 
Combe, R.A. 



in time of peace was double that of the civil population. 
A comparison of the civil and military mortality in certain 
London parishes was yet more startling. In St. Pancras 
the civil rate was 2-2 ; the rate in the barracks of the 2nd 
Life Guards was 10-4. In Kensington the civil rate was 
3*3 ; the rate in the Knightsbridge barracks was 17-5. 
Every one who knew the contents of the Report perceived 
that this was the point which would cause a sensation. The 
Crimean War and its muddles were beginning to fade into 
the past, especially in view of the Indian Mutiny ; and 
reorganization of a department of the Army would never 
be likely to arrest popular attention. But the case was 
different with facts and figures showing that the health 
of the Army, even when at home and in peace, was shame- 
fully sacrificed by official neglect. There was to be a 
sitting of Parliament in December, and nasty questions 
would assuredly be asked unless something were done. 
There was a masterful and importunate woman behind the 
scenes who was firmly resolved that something should be 
done. Without a moment's rest, without thought of recess 
or relaxation, Miss Nightingale flung herself into a new 



(August-December 1857) 

The Nation is grateful to you for what you did at Scutari, but all that 
it was possible for you to do there was a tritle compared with the good 
you are doing now. — Sir John McNeill {Letter to Florence Nightingale, 
Dec. 1857). 

Reformers, who are familiar with the ways of the political 
world, more often sigh than rejoice when they hear that a 
subject in which they are interested has been " referred to a 
Royal Commission." They know that the chances are many 
to one that the subject, like the Report, will be placed on 
a shelf and stay there. Sometimes the reference is a well- 
understood euphemism for such an intention ; and even 
when it is not, there are many things which may bring about 
the same result. The Commission will perhaps produce a 
litter of Reports from whose discordant voices no definite 
conclusion can be drawn. In any case the Report, or Re- 
ports, will have to " engage the earnest attention " of His or 
Her Majesty's Government, and the attention, earnest or 
otherwise, is sure to be prolonged. Before the process has 
come to an end, many things may have happened to overlay 
the subject in question. Every generation of reformers sees 
a certain number of subjects on which its heart has been set 
deeply interred under a pile of Blue-books, 

This was the danger with which Mr. Herbert and Miss 
Nightingale were confronted in August 1857 i^ ^^^ ^^^^ 
of their Royal Commission on the sanitary condition of 
the British Army. Against the risk of an equivocal Report 
they had, indeed, guarded themselves in advance ; but the 
danger of a definite Report leading to no immediate action 
had still to be met. Mr. Herbert was no less anxious than 



Miss Nightingale to meet it. He had devoted unsparing 
toil to the Commission ; his toil would be reduced to futility 
if the Report were merely to be pigeon-holed. They laid 
their plans on the consideration mentioned at the end of 
the last chapter — namely, the effect which the disclosures 
of the Royal Commission was likely to have on public 
opinion. Mr. Herbert communicated the gist of the Report 
privately to Lord Panmure. It could be officially presented 
and published sooner or later as the negotiations with 
Ministers might go. Mr. Herbert pointed out to Lord 
Panmure that the Report was " likely to arrest a good deal 
of general attention " ; that there was time to take measures 
towards reform before the Report became known to the 
public ; that the simultaneous publication both of its 
recommendations and of orders and regulations founded 
upon them would " give the prestige which promptitude 
always carries with it." Mr, Herbert would gladly give 
every assistance in his power towards that end. He put the 
case with his usual suavity. But there was iron within the 
velvet. The publication of the Report could properly be 
postponed for a while, but not indefinitely. Lord Panmure 
had to choose between committing himself to instant reform, 
so as to whitewash the Government beforehand, and post- 
poning reform, in which case he would have to reckon with 
a public opinion inflamed by the disclosures of the Report. 
And meanwhile Miss Nightingale still held her Report in 
reserve, for use in an appeal to public opinion, should the 
negotiations fail to secure any guarantee for prompt reform. 
The plan of active reform agreed upon between her and 
Mr. Herbert was that four Sub-Commissions should be 
appointed, with Mr. Herbert himself as Chairman of each, 
to settle the details of reform, and in some measure to 
execute it, in accordance with the general recommendations 
of the Report. These Sub-Commissions were severally (i) 
To put the Barracks in sanitary order, (2) To organize a 
Statistical Department, (3) To institute a Medical School, and 
(4) To reconstruct the Army Medical Department, to revise 
the Hospital Regulations, and draw up a Warrant for the 
Promotion of Medical Officers. This last, from its compre- 
hensive and cleansing scope, was called by Miss Nightingale 


" The Wiping Commission." Mr. Herbert sent these pro- 
posals to Lord Panmure on August 7,^ and two days later he 
wrote to Miss Nightingale : " Panmure writes fairly enough, 
but he has gone to shoot grouse. I have asked Alexander to 
meet me at the Burlington on Wednesday at 3, to discuss and 
settle things. So I have disposed of your time and rooms," 
The grouse, however, were not quite ready, and on the 14th 
Mr. Herbert caught Lord Panmure on the wing. Mr. Herbert 
seemed to carry his point, the four Sub-Commissions were 
agreed to in general terms, and, as he sent word to Miss 
Nightingale on the same day, he was " able to leave for 
Ireland with a lighter heart after seeing Pan. But I am not 
easy about you. Here am I going to lead an animal life for 
a month, get up early, pursue your animal, catch him, eat 
him, and go to sleep. Why can't you, who do men's work, 
take man's exercise in some shape ? . . . This is my parting 
sermon. I use, for the purpose of scolding you, a liberty 
which nothing gives me but my hearty regard and affection 
for you." 

Mr. Herbert had well earned his month's fishing. But as 
Dr. Sutherland presently wrote to her, " one thing is quite 
clear, that women can do what men would not do, and that 
women will dare suffering knowingly where men would 
shrink." Miss Nightingale would not, and could not, take 
man's rest because she felt her cause too intensely ; she 
could not be of so light a heart as her friend, because she 
knew " her Pan " a little better than he did. Dr. Andrew 
Smith, she heard, was putting up a stiff fight against reform. 
Lord Panmure stayed on in the Highlands late into the 
autumn, paying only a flying visit or two to London. His 
subordinates were as laborious as ever in piling up objections. 
He became frightened at his own acts, and at one time 
revoked (but afterwards, under pressure, reinstated) the 
authority he had given for the Wiping Sub-Commission. 
Mr. Herbert returned to England in September, and came up 
to London to see Miss Nightingale before the first meeting 
of the first Sub-Commission. Many weeks elapsed before all 
of them were set on foot. She meanwhile was incessantly at 
work, and Dr. Sutherland, who lived at Highgate, was 

^ The letter is printed in Stanmore, vol. ii. p. 133. 


constantly with her. She wrote reminders to Lord Panmure, 
" although I hear you saying, There is that bothering 
woman again," and she begged Mr. Herbert to do the like. 
She drafted instructions and schemes for each of the Sub- 
Commissions. As each of them set to work, there were 
meetings in her rooms to settle the procedure. There were 
periods, as Miss Nightingale afterwards recalled, " when 
Sidney Herbert would meet the Cabal, as he used to call it, 
which consists of ' you and me and Alexander and Suther- 
land, and sometimes Martin and Farr,' every day either at 
Burlington Street, or at Belgrave Square, and sometimes as 
often as twice or even three times a day." A few extracts 
from her correspondence will show the extent of her work 
and the eagerness of her temper : — 

August 7 {Miss Nightingale to Sir J. McNeill). The recon- 
stitution of the Army Medical Department as to its government 
has been carried by the commission almost in the form which 
you recommended. I have been requested by Mr. Herbert, who 
went out of town last night for a few days, to draw up a scheme 
as to what these new men are to do. And I now venture to en- 
close it to you, earnestly begging you to consider it and send it 
me back with your remarks in as short a time as you possibly can. 
We have carried the Barracks Sub-Commission with Panmure, 
Dr. Sutherland to be the Sanitary Head. 

Sept. 29 {Mr. Herbert to Miss Nightingale). Pan is still 
shooting. It is to me unconscionable. In future you must 
defend the Bison, for I won't. 

Oct. 10 {Miss Nightingale to Sir J. McNeill). I will not say 
a word about India. You know so much more about it than 
anybody here. We have seen terrible things in the last 3 years, 
but nothing to my mind so terrible as Panmure's unmanly and 
stupid indifference on this occasion ! I have been three years 
" serving in " the War Department. When I began, there was 
incapacity, but not indifference. Now there is incapacity and 
indifference. . . . Panmure's coming up to town last Thursday 
week was the consequence of reiterated remonstrance. . . . And 
he is going away again after the next Indian mail. That India 
will have to be occupied by British troops for several years, I 
suppose there is no question. And so far from the all-absorbing 
interest of this Indian subject diminishing the necessity of 
immediately carrying out the reforms suggested by our Com- 
mission, I am sure you will agree that they are now the more 
vitally important to the very existence of an army. I came up 


to town [from Malvern] on Thursday week and met Mr. Herbert 
for this purpose. Panmure had not done a thing. It was 
extracted from him then and there that the four Sub-Commissions 
. . . should be issued immediately. The Instructions had been 
approved by P. seven weeks ago. A week, however, has elapsed, 
and we have heard nothing. I shall not, however, leave P. alone 
till this is done. Mr. Herbert's honour is at stake, which gives 
us a hold upon him. Without him, of course, I could do nothing. 

Nov. 9 {Sir J. McNeill to Miss Nightingale). We may now 
reckon on something being done to rescue the country from the 
sin and shame of having so culpably neglected our soldiers. I 
rejoice that you are to see the fruits of your labours in their 

Nov. 15 (Miss Nightingale to Sir J. McNeill). Here I come 
again. Panmure has granted the wiping " Commission " with 
such ample instructions for " preparing draft Instructions and 
Regulations," defining the duties of etc., etc., and revising the 
" Queen's Q.M.G's., Barracks', Purveyor's and Hospital Regula- 
tions," as you may guess them to be, when I tell you they were 
written by me. . . . Mr. Herbert is, besides, to send Panmure 
a " Constitution " for the Army Medical Board, and a Warrant 
for " Promotion " himself. All that is necessary now is to keep 
Mr. Herbert up to the point. The strength of his character is 
its simpUcity and candour, with extreme quickness of perception ; 
its fault is its excessive eclecticism. Ten years have I been 
endeavouring to obtain an expression of opinion from him and 
have never succeeded yet. . . . This new Sub - Commission 
entails upon me a labour I most gladly undertake of putting 
together Draft Regulations to be submitted to Mr. Herbert, as 
suggestions for the Draft he will propose to the Sub-Commission. 
These Regulations must, of course, rhyme with the Report. I 
think you would recommend, etc., etc. 

Dec. I {Miss Nightingale to Sir J. McNeill). This is the first 
rough proof of the Regulations chiefly written by myself, which 
Mr. Herbert will submit to the Regulations Committee on Monday. 
I send them to you with his sanction, begging you to cut them 
up severely, and to send them back as soon as possible. I, in 
my own name, direct your particular attention to criticize the 
Regulations for Nurses. You will of course understand that 
my name does not appear. We are so sorry to give you this 
trouble, but feel the necessity of having your advice. 

Dec. 14 {Mrs. Herbert to Miss Nightingale). Dearest — 
Sidney wishes me to send you these, if you will be so kind as to 
Jook over them. I know it's wrong. 



A later letter from Sir John McNeill is quoted at the head 
of this chapter. He considered that compared with the work 
which she was doing now, what she had done at Scutari was 
" a trifle " — " mere child's play " was the phrase which she 
herself used in making the comparison. Preceding pages 
will, I think, have inclined the reader to the same conclusion, 
or, at any rate, have enabled him to understand what Miss 
Nightingale and Sir John meant. And this large and 
difficult work was being done by a woman who had already 
taxed her physical strength dangerously in the East, and 
who was now threatened, in the opinion of competent 
observers, by a complete breakdown Of the members of 
what was called her " Cabinet," Sir John McNeill was the 
one for whose intellectual power and judgment she had the 
highest respect, to Mr. Herbert she was personally the most 
attached, but to Dr. Sutherland also she sometimes opened 
her inner thoughts and feelings. He was of a somewhat 
wayward disposition, which alternately pleased and vexed 
the business-like Lady-in-Chief, but he was an indispensable 
helper, whilst in his wife Miss Nightingale inspired deep 
affection, and the two women interchanged intimate religious 
experiences. All Miss Nightingale's friends, and Dr. Suther- 
land as a medical man more especially, saw that she was 
over-working. Change of air and seclusion she herself felt 
compelled to seek ; and she found them at Malvern, in 
the establishment of Dr. Johnson, who had moved thither 
from Umberslade ^ ; but rest from work she would not, 
and could not, take She was at Malvern in August and 
September, and again in December. Her faithful Aunt Mai 
— ^her " true mother," as the niece at this time called her — 
kept watch over her alike at Malvern and in London. The 
society of her own mother and sister, with their many and 
lively interests, she found distracting. Whether at the 
Burlington or at Malvern, she desired to use every hour of 
strength for her work and for nothing else. And when Dr. 
Sutherland joined the others in begging her to desist, her 

^ See above, p. ii8. 


heart was heavy within her. She was sore that her friend 
should understand her so httle. She surmised that he had 
been prompted by her sister. She was morbidly anxious at 
this time that no member of the family except Aunt Mai 
should know how ill she was. She had attained her freedom 
for the life of independent work, at a great price, as the first 
Part of this Memoir has shown. Perhaps in her present 
over-wrought condition she was haunted by a dread lest the 
galling solicitude of her family might lure her back into the 
cage. Dr. Sutherland had written two letters at the end of 
August begging her to put all work aside. She was thinking 
of everybody's " sanitary improvement," he said, except her 
own. " Pray leave us all to ourselves, soldiers and all, for 
a while. We shall all be the better for a rest. Even your 
' divine Pan ' will be more musical for not being beaten quite 
so much. As for Mr. Sidney Herbert, he must be in the 
seventh heaven. Please don't gull Dr. Gully, but do eat and 
drink and don't think. We'll make such a precious row 
when you come back. The day you left town it appeared as 
if all your blood wanted renewing, and that cannot be done 
in a week. You must have new blood, or you can't work, 
and new blood can't be made out of tea, at least so far as I 
know. There is a paper of Dr. Christison's about 28 ounces 
of solid food per diem. You know where that is, and depend 
on it the Dr. is right. . . . And now I have done my duty as 
confessor, and hope I shall find you an obedient penitent." 
To this letter she replied as follows : — 

{Miss Nightingale to Dr. Sutherland.) And what shall I say 
in answer to your letter ? Some one said once. He that would 
save his life shall lose it ; and what shall it profit a man if he 
gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? He meant, I 
suppose, that " life " is a means and not an end, and that 
" soul," or the object of life, is the end. Perhaps he was right. 
Now in what one respect could I have done other than I have 
done ? or what exertion have I made that I could have left 
unmade ? . . . Had I " lost " the Report, what would the health 
I should have saved have " profited " me ? or what would ten 
years of life have advantaged me, exchanged for the ten weeks 
this summer ? Yes, but, you say, you might have walked or 
driven or eaten meat. Well, since we must come to sentir delta 
spezieria, let me tell you, Doctor, that after any walk or drive 
I sat up all night with palpitation. And the sight of animal LIFE AND WORK 369 

food increased the sickness. The man here put me, as soon as 
I arrived, on a sofa and told me not to move and to take no soUd 
food at all till my pulse came down. I remind myself of a little 
dog, a friend of mine, who barked himself out of an apoplectic 
fit, when the Dog-Doctor did something he had always mani- 
fested an objection to. Now I have written myself into a 
palpitation. Do you think me one of Byron's young ladies ? 
He, it was, I think, who made a small appetite the fashion. Or 
do you think me an Ascetic ? Asceticism is the trifling of an 
enthusiast with his power, a puerile coquetting with his selfish- 
ness or his vanity, in the absence of any sufficiently great object 
to emplo}^ the first or overcome the last. Or, since I am speaking 
to an artist and must illustrate and not define, the " Cristo della 
Moneta " of Titian at Dresden is an ascetic. The " Er ist 
vollbracht " of Albert Diirer at Nuremberg is a Christ — he whom 
we call an example, though little we make of it. For our Church 
has daubed that tender, beautiful image with coarse bloody 
colours till it looks like the sign of a road-side inn. And another 
has mysticized him out of all human reach till he is the God and 
God is the Devil. But are we not really to do as Christ did ? 
And when he said the " Son of Man," did he not mean the sons of 
men ? He was no ascetic. 

But shall I tell you what made you write to me ? I have 
no second sight, I do not see visions nor dream dreams. It was 
my sister. Or rather I \vill tell you that I have second sight. 
I have been greatly harassed by seeing my poor owl ^ lately, 
without her head, without her life, without her talons, lying in 
the cage of your canary (like the statue of Rameses II. in the 
pool at Memphis ^), and the little villain pecking at her. Now, 
that's me. I am lying without my head, without my claws, 
and you all peck at me. It is de rigueur, d'ohligation, like the 
saying something to one's hat, when one goes into church, to 
say to me all that has been said to me no times a day during the 
last three months. It is the obbligato on the violin, and the 
twelve violins all practise it together, like the clocks striking 
12 o'clock at night all over London, till I say Uke Xavier de 
Maistre, A ssez, je le sais,je ne le sais que trop. I am not a penitent ; 
but you are like the R.C. Confessor, who says what is de rigueur, 
what is in his Formulary to say, and never comes to the life of the 
thing, — the root of the matter. 

{Dr. Sutherland to Miss Nightingale.) Highgate, Sept. 7, 

^ For this pet owl, see above, pp. 89, 160. 

^ " In a grassy hollow, by the side of a bright pool of water, lies a statue 
of the great Rameses, the most beautiful sculpture we have yet seen. 
There he lies upon his face, as if he had just laid down weary," etc. Flor- 
ence Nightingale's Letters from Egypt, 1854, p. 258. 

VOL. I 2 B 


What can I say, my dear friend, to your long scold of a letter ? 
. . . You are decidedly wrong in passing yourself off for a dead 
owl, and in thinking that I have joined with other equally charit- 
able people in pecking at you. It is / that have got all the 
pecking, altho' I hope that I am neither an owl, nor dead ; 
and your little beak is one of the sharpest. But like a good, 
live hero, I bear it all joyfully because it is got in doing my duty 
to you. I want you to Uve, I want you to work. You want to 
work and die, and that is not at all fair. I admire your heroism 
and self-devotion with all my heart, but alas ! I cannot forget 
that it is all within the compass of a weak, perishing body ; and 
am I to encourage you to wear yourself in the vain attempt to 
beat not only men, but time ? You Httle know what daily anxiety 
it has cost me to see you dying by inches in doing work fit only 
for the strongest constitution. . . . 

Dr. Sutherland urged her to take at any rate a week's 
complete rest. But she would not. Her cause was her life, 
and she could not for the sake of life lose what alone made 
life worth living. While they were delaying, the soldiers 
were dying. Her work would not wait. She begged him 
to come down to Malvern and work with her in order 
that they might have everything ready to put before 
Mr. Herbert in London by the time he returned from 
his fishing. Dr. Sutherland wrote pretty excuses. Mrs. 
Sutherland made counter-suggestions. Why should not 
Miss Nightingale stay on at Malvern altogether ? " Would 
not Mr. Herbert," she wrote (Sept. ii), " go to you for a 
few days, settle all the points, and then communicate 
daily by letter ? You have so much tact that you would be 
able to maintain your influence. Do think if this be possible. 
It is quite against my own interest to desire it, for if you come 
to London, I may get a glimpse of your dear face." But 
Miss Nightingale persisted, and Dr. Sutherland surrendered. 
He went down to Malvern, was himself ill there, and Miss 
Nightingale reported progress of " the sick baby " to his wife. 
But the two invalids, we may be sure, talked of other things 
than their ailments. 


So little was Miss Nightingale in a mood to succumb to 
her physical weakness, that she had offered to go out to 


India, where her friend Lady Canning was at the Viceroy's 
side during the Mutiny. " Miss Nightingale has written 
to me," wrote Lady Canning to her mother (Nov. 14) ; 
" she is out of health and at Malvern, but says she 
would come at twenty-four hours' notice if I think there 
is anything for her to do in her ' line of business.' I think 
there is not anything here, for there are few wounded men in 
want of actual nursing, and there are plenty of native 
servants and assistants who can do the dressings. Only one 
man, who was very ill of dysentery, has died since we went 
to the hospital a fortnight ago. The up-country hospitals 
are too scattered for a nursing establishment, and one could 
hardly yet send women up." ^ Miss Nightingale was very 
serious in the offer, for she had made it twice ; first through 
Mr. Herbert, and then in a personal letter, carried by her 
cousin, Major Nicholson, who had been ordered to India at 
this time. She thought of herself as a soldier in the ranks ; 
and absorbed intently though she was in her work for the 
Army at home, she would have considered active service in 
the field a superior call. Had the Viceroy felt the need of 
accepting Miss Nightingale's offer, it is possible that her 
power of will and the excitement of activity might have 
carried her through the ordeal ; but she had barely strength 
for the work on which she was already engaged. 

Of her daily life during this period, at Malvern and in 
London successively, her sister's letters give a vivid descrip- 
tion : — 

{Lady Verney to Madame Mohl.) [September 1857.] The 
accounts of F. have been very anxious. Aunt Mai says she 
does not sleep above two hours in the night, and continues most 
feverish and feeble, and cannot eat. She never left that room 
where you saw her, was scarcely off her sofa for a month. Now 
she goes down for half an hour into a parlour, to do business with 
a Commissioner who has been there to see her. Aunt Mai says 
it throws her back more to put off work for " the cause " she 
lives for than to do a little every day — so we reconcile ourselves. 
Tuesday, she says, was a very uneasy day, and F. said she felt 
as she had done when recovering from the fever at Balaclava. 
Still both doctors say there is no disease, that it is only entire 
exhaustion of every organ from overwork, and that rest will alone 

^ Augustus Hare's Story of Two Noble Lives, vol. ii. p. 350. 


restore her — rest for much longer than she will give herself, I 
fear. She has two " packs " a day ; this is all the water-curing ; 
it seems to bring down the pulse, and she lies at that open window 
the chief part of the day, not reading or writing, only just still. 
She cannot be better anywhere, no one can get at her ; Aunt Mai 
is a dragon, and the Commissioner is the only person who has 
seen her. Aunt M. says, " I cannot disguise to myself that she 
is in a very precarious state." 

{Lady Verney to M. Mohl.) [Dec. 5, 1857.] Aunt Mai's 
bulletin is generally the same : " Mr. Herbert for 3 hours in the 
morning. Dr. Sutherland for 4 hours in the afternoon. Dr. Balfour, 
Dr. Farr, Dr. Alexander interspersed." They are drawing up 
the new Regulations (but this you must not tell. F. is as nervous 
of being known to have anything to do with it as other people 
are of getting honour). . . . Dr. Sutherland burst out to Aunt 
Mai the other day that F.'s " clearness and strength of mind, her 
extraordinary powers, her grasp of intellect and benevolence of 
heart struck him more and more as he worked with her — that no 
one who did not see her proved and tried as he did could conceive 
the extent of both." " The most gifted of God's creatures," 
he called her. And the determined way in which she will not 
let any one know what she is about is so curious. She will not 
even tell us ; we only hear it from these men. She is killing 
herself with work (which they all say no one else can do, no one 
else has the threads of it, or the perseverance for it), and yet no 
one will ever know it. Others will have all the credit of the 
very things she suggested and introduced, at the cost one may say 
of life and comfort of all kinds, for it is an intolerable life she is 
leading — lying down between whiles to enable her just to go on, 
not seeing her nearest and dearest, because, with her breath so 
hurried, all talking must be spared except what is necessary, and 
all excitement, that she may devote every energy to the work. 
. . . Aunt Mai says again to-day how Mr. Herbert is in sometimes 
twice a day and Dr. Sutherland the whole day (but please don't 
tell any one), because she alone can give facts which no one else 
hardly possesses, because she knows the bearings of the whole 
which no one else has followed, has both the smallest details at 
her fingers' ends and the great general views of the whole — 
what is to be gained and what avoided. 

While Miss Nightingale was lying ill at Malvern, 
she was being courted in counterfeit at Manchester. 
Her parents and sister were visiting Manchester to see 
the " Art Treasures Exhibition," and the newspapers 
had included Florence in the party. The sightseers, 
wrote Lady Verney, took Lady Newport, " a very sweet- 


looking woman in black," for Florence and " treated 
her like a saint of the Middle Ages. ' Let me touch your 
shawl only,' they said as they crowded round, or ' Let me 
stroke your arm.' Mrs. Gaskell told me we could have no 
idea how deep the feeling is for you in the hearts of the 

The feeling would perhaps have been yet deeper if the 
people had known the work which Miss Nightingale was still 
doing, and the delicate health from which she was suffering. 
At the end of 1857 she thought that death might overtake 
her in the middle of her work with Sidney Herbert, and she 
wrote this letter to him " to be sent when I am dead " : — 

30 Old Burlington Street, November 26, 1857. Dear 
Mr. Herbert — (i) I hope you will not regret the manner of my 
death. I know that you will be kind enough to regret the fact 
of it. You have sometimes said that you were sorry you had 
employed me. I assure you that it has kept me alive. I am 
sorry not to stay alive to do the " Nurses." But I can't help it. 
" Lord, here I am, send me " has always been religion to me. I 
must be willing to go now as I was to go to the East. You know 
I always thought it the greatest of your kindnesses sending me 
there. Perhaps He wants a " Sanitary Officer " now for my 
Crimeans in some other world where they are gone. — (2) I have 
no fears for the Army now. You have always been our " Cid " 
— the true chivalrous sort — which is to be the defender of what 
is weak and ugly and dirty and undefended, rather than of what 
is beautiful and artistic. You are so now more than ever for us. 
" Us " means in my language the troops and me. — (3) I hope you 
will iiave no chivakous ideas about what is " due " to my 
" memory." The only thing that can be " due " to me is what 
is good for the troops. I always thought thus while I was alive. 
And I am not Hkely to think otherwise now that I am dead. 
Whatever your own judgment has accepted from me will come 
with far greater force from yourself. Whatever your own judg- 
ment has rejected would come with no force at all. — (4) What 
remains to be done has, however, already been sanctioned by 
your judgment : — (i.) as to Army Medical Council, Army Medical 
School, General Hospital scheme, Gymnastics ; (ii.) as to what 
Dr. Sutherland must needs do for the Sanitary branch ; (iii.) as 
to Colonial Barracks, — Canadian, Mediterranean, W. and E. 
Indian. — (5) I am very sorry about the Nursing scheme. It seems 
like leaving it in the lurch. Mrs. Shaw Stewart is the only 
woman I know who will do for Superintendent of Army Nurses. — 


Believe me ever, while I can say God bless you, yours gratefully, 
F. Nightingale. 

Then she asked her uncle to assist her in making a will. 
She was anxious about the Nightingale Fund, to the manage- 
ment of which she had not as yet been able to devote 
attention. She proposed to leave it to St. Thomas's Hospital. 
The property to which she would ultimately be entitled upon 
the death of her father and mother she proposed to apply to 
the building of a model Barrack according to her ideas ; 
" that is, with day -rooms for the men, separate places 
to sleep in (like Jebb's Asylum at Fulham), lavatories, 
gymnastic-places, reading-rooms, etc., not forgetting the 
wives, but having a kind of Model Lodging-House for the 
married men." In a letter of instructions to her uncle, she 
named Sir John McNeill, Mr. Herbert, and Dr. Sutherland as 
the men who would best carry out such a plan. She included 
a few family bequests ; but what was nearest to her heart at 
this time was to leave personal keepsakes to Mrs. Herbert and 
other friends who had " worked for her long and faithfully." 
For this purpose, in order that there might be no question 
about possession, she begged her sister to send up to London 
from Embley various goods and chattels which had personal 
association with herself. And she had one other wish ; it 
related to her " children." " The associations with our 
men," she wrote to her sister (Dec. ii), " amount to me to 
what I never should have expected to feel — a superstition, 
which makes me wish to be buried in the Crimea, absurd as 
I know it to be. For they are not there." 



(l 858-1 860) 

With aching hands, and bleeding feet 
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone ; 
We bear the burden and the heat 
Of the long day, and wish 'twere done. 
Not till the hours of light return, 
All we have built do we discern. 

Matthew Arnold. 

" You must now feel," wrote Sir John McNeill to Miss 
Nightingale (May 13, 1858), when her work for the health of 
the British soldier at home was beginning to bear fruit, 
" that you have not laboured in vain, that you have made 
your talent ten talents, and that to you more than to any 
other man or woman alive, will henceforth be due the welfare 
and efficiency of the British Army. Napoleon said that in 
military affairs the moral are to the physical forces as four to 
one, but you have shown that he greatly underrated their 
value. The rapidity with which you have obtained unanim- 
ous consent to your principles much exceeds my expecta- 
tions. I never dared to doubt that truth and justice and 
mercy would prevail, but I did not hope to live long enough 
to see their triumph when we first communed here of such 
things.^ I thank God that I have lived to see your success." 
Sir John's thanksgiving was caused by the tone and the 
result of a debate which had taken place in the House of 
Commons upon May 11, 1858. Lord Ebrington, prompted 
by Mr. Herbert and Miss Nightingale, had moved a series of 
Resolutions with regard to the Health of the Army, founded 
upon the Report of the Royal Commission. He had laid 

^ At Edinburgh in the autumn of 1856 ; see above, pp. 321, 328. 


376 " COXCOMBS " pt. m 

special stress upon the figures, due to Miss Nightingale's 
insight and industry, comparing the mortality in the Army 
and in civil life respectively ; he called attention to the 
horrible state of the Barracks, and his Resolutions concluded 
thus : " That in the opinion of this House, improvements 
are imperatively called for not less by good policy and true 
economy, than by justice and humanity." The Government 
accepted the Resolutions, and Miss Nightingale's campaign 
had thus obtained the unanimous approval of the House of 

She had worked indefatigably, and through many 
channels, and she continued so to work, in order to focus and 
stimulate public opinion in the sense of Lord Ebrington's 
Resolutions. By the end of 1857 ^^e Sub-Commissions on 
Army Medical Reform were making good progress, and the 
Report of the Royal Commission was about to be published. 
She devised an effective means of forcing its salient feature 
upon the attention of every person most concerned in the 
evils or most influential towards securing the necessary 
remedies. I have referred already (p. 352) to her diagrams 
illustrative of the mortahty in the British Army. As finally 
prepared with Dr. Farr's assistance, they showed most 
effectively at a glance, by means of shaded or coloured 
squares, circles and wedges, (i) the deaths due to pre- 
ventable causes in the Hospitals during the Crimean War, 
and (2) the rate of mortality in the British Army at home : 
" our soldiers enlist," as she put it, "to Death in the 
Barracks." She now wrote a memorandum, explaining the 
diagrams and pointing their moral, and had 2000 copies 
printed. This anonymous publication — entitled Mortality 
of the British Army — is called in her correspondence Cox- 
combs, primarily from the shape and colours of her diagrams. 
She had proposed, and Mr. Herbert agreed, that the memor- 
andum and diagrams should be included as an appendix in 
his Report, in order that her pamphlet might appear as 
" Reprinted from the Report of the Royal Commission," 
and thus be given the greater authority. So soon as the 
Report was issued, she distributed her Coxcombs to the 
Queen and other members of the Royal Family, to Ministers, 


to leading members of both Houses of Parliament, and to 
Medical and Commanding Officers throughout the country, 
in India and in the colonies. She had a few copies of the 
diagrams glazed and framed, and three of these she sent to 
the War Office, the Horse Guards, and the Army Medical 
Department. I do not know whether these Departments 
hung up the present. "It is our flank march upon the 
enemy," she wTote in sending an early copy to Sir John 
McNeill, " and we might give it the old name of God's Revenge 
upon Murder." 

The Report of the Royal Commission appeared at the 
beginning of February (1858), and the Secretary sent one of 
the eariiest copies to Miss Nightingale. " I like him very 
much," she replied (Feb. 5) ; "I think he looks very hand- 
some. Lady Tulloch says I make my pillow of Blue-books. 
It certainly has been the case with this." She did not sleep 
over it, however. She was immediately up and doing. 
Among her papers there is a curious collection of letters and 
memoranda, partly in her handwriting, partly in that of 
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert, showing how industriously they set 
to work to pull wires in the press. The monthly and 
quarterly Reviews were in those days deemed of great im- 
portance in influencing public opinion, and Miss Nightingale 
drew up and sent for Mr. Herbert's criticism a list of the 
principal among them, entering against each magazine or 
review the name of the writer whom she designated as the 
ideal contributor of an article upon the Report. They had 
as much trouble in adjusting the parts as a theatrical 
manager finds in settling his cast. Lord Stanley, for example, 
promised to write, but he was particular about his place of 
appearance. It must be the Westminster Review or nowhere, 
and Miss Nightingale had already allotted that place to the 
principal star, Mr. Herbert himself.^ And, moreover, the 
managers in this instance were drawing up a cast for other 
people's houses, and the editors did not in all cases prove 
amenable. Mr. Elwin, the editor of the Quarterly, rejected the 
article submitted to him. But Mr. Reeve, of the Edinburgh, 

1 His article appeared in the Westminster for January 1859, and long 
extracts are given in Stanmore, vol. ii. pp. 141-8. Miss Nightingale 
read it in manuscript and contributed much material. 


was an old friend of Miss Nightingale, and he accepted 
her nominee, though he displeased her by mangling the 
article in the Ministerial interest. However, in the dailies, 
the monthlies and the quarterlies, the Report had, on the 
whole, " a good press," and, what is no less important for 
influencing public opinion, a prompt press. 


These things had hardly been arranged when there was a 
political crisis, and this involved Miss Nightingale and her 
allies in additional work. Lord Palmerston's Government 
was defeated on the Conspiracy Bill, and resigned. Lord 
Derby came in (Feb. 25), with General Peel as Secretary for 
War. Here, then, we say good-bye, for the present, to " the 
Bison." He had been dilatory to the last. Mr. Herbert had 
hoped to see the Army Medical School established in January, 
and had written to Miss Nightingale to nominate suitable men 
for the various chairs — " not," he added despairingly, " that 
Panmure would appoint any one even if the Angel Gabriel 
had offered himself, St. Michael and all angels to fill the 
different chairs. He is very slow to move." Miss Nightin- 
gale took formal leave of Lord Panmure later in the year, in 
sending him a copy of one of her books. " You shock me," 
he replied from the Highlands (Nov.), " by telling me I once 
called you ' a turbulent fellow.' Had any one else said so, I 
should have denied it, but I must have been vilely rude. 
Accept my apology now ; and to bribe you to do so, I send 
you a box of grouse." Mr. Herbert at first cherished high 
hopes of Lord Panmure's successor. Miss Nightingale and 
Mr. Herbert were particularly anxious upon a personal point. 
The Army Medical Department had not yet been reformed, 
and it was known that Sir Andrew Smith would shortly 
retire. By seniority Sir John Hall would have claims to 
the post, and his appointment would, the allies considered, be 
disastrous to the cause of reform ; it would be useless, they 
felt, to frame new regulations without an infusion of new 
blood. This, therefore, was the first point on which repre- 
sentations were made to Lord Panmure's successor. " I 
have seen General Peel," wrote Mr. Herbert to Miss Nightin- 


gale (Feb. 27), " and he promised to make no appointment 
nor to take any step in regard to the Medical Department or 
sanitary measures till he has conferred with me. I think 
Peel may do well if we can put him well in possession of the 
case." General Peel duly did what they wanted on this 
personal issue. " I hope we may assume," wrote Mr. 
Herbert to Miss Nightingale (May 25), " that Smith is 
really gone. It is no use trying to realize the enormous 
importance of such a fact." They must now, he continued, 
" fix the appointment of Alexander." Three days later 
he wrote to Dr. Sutherland : " Please tell Miss N. that 
I warned Peel against the expected recommendation of 
Sir J. Hall, and he will, I think, be prepared to turn a deaf 
ear to it. I wrote yesterday to him on another subject and 
threw in some praise of Alexander." Such is the gentle art 
of influencing Ministers. On June 11 Dr. T. Alexander was 
appointed to succeed Sir Andrew Smith. Dr. Alexander 
unhappily died suddenly at the beginning of i860, but it was 
a great thing for the Reformers, at a time when the Army 
Medical Department was being recast, to have one of them- 
selves at the head of it, instead of a supporter of the ancien 
regime. " I cannot say," wrote Mr. Herbert to Miss Nightin- 
gale (Sept. 16, 1858), " how glad I am to have your account 
of Alexander. Everything in futuro must depend on him. 
You cannot maintain a commission sitting permanently in 
terrorem over the Director-General, and Alexander seems able 
and willing to be his own commission." So the allies had 
done at least one good stroke of business with General Peel. 
Another of the new ministers — Lord Stanley, the Colonial 
Secretary — was also helpful. " He will send the Coxcombs 
out to the Colonial Governors," wrote Mr. Herbert (March 
16) ; " he offered any service his position can enable him to 
give to assist our cause, and suggests that a Commission 
should inspect Colonial barracks, and he proposes to discuss 
the matter with you." Presently, however. Lord Stanley 
was moved from the Colonial to the India Office ; where 
Miss Nightingale enlisted his interest in another sanitary 
campaign, which was thenceforward to fill a large space 
in her working life, as will appear in a later Part. So, 
then, the new Government seemed promising ; but it soon 


began to appear that at the War Office the cobwebs were 
beyond the power of the new broom to sweep away. 
Some reforms were carried out, but the permanent officials 
were as obstructive under General Peel as under Lord 
Panmure. " These War Office Subs.," wrote Mr. Herbert to 
Miss Nightingale (June 29), " are intolerable — half a dozen 
fellows sitting down to compose Minutes just for the fun of 
the thing on a subject which they cannot possibly know 
anything about ! Peel ought not to let these Subs, interfere, 
spoil and delay as they do. That office wants a thorough re- 
casting, but I doubt whether Peel is the man to do it. He 
has a clear head and good sense, but I think he is over- 
powered by the amount of work which Panmure by the 
simple process of never attempting to do it found so easy." 
But alike amid hope and care, amid fear and anger, Mr. 
Herbert and Miss Nightingale worked away at their reforms 
unceasingly. Throughout the year 1858 she was in a very 
weak state of health. She divided her time, as before, 
between Malvern and Old Burlington Street, travelling 
backwards and forwards in an invalid carriage, and escorted 
by Mr. Clough, now sworn to her service. Her aunt, Mrs. 
Smith, was still in frequent attendance upon her. Her 
father was with her for a while at Malvern, and, like every 
one else, enjoined the desirability of rest. " Well, my dear 
child," he wrote afterwards from Lea Hurst (Sept. 25), " it's 
no small matter to see your handwriting again, and to make 
believe that you are a good deal more than half alive. But 
the worst of it is, that there's no depending upon you for any 
persistence in curing yourself, while you have so many others 
to cure. I often wonder how it is that you who care so little 
for your own life should have such wonderful love for the 
lives of others." She seldom saw her mother and sister. In 
June 1858 her sister married. " Thank you very much," 
wrote Miss Nightingale to Lady McNeill (July 17), " for 
your congratulations on my sister's marriage, which took 
place last month. She likes it, which is the main thing. 
And my father is very fond of Sir Harry Verney, which is the 
next best thing. He is old and rich, which is a disadvantage. 
He is active, has a will of his own and four children ready- 
made, which is an advantage. Unmarried life, at least in 


our class, takes everything and gives nothing back to this 
poor earth. It runs no risk, it gives no pledge to life. So, 
on the whole, I think these reflections tend to approbation." 
For herself she " thinks," wrote her aunt, " that each day 
may be the last on which she will have power to work." 

And her ally, Mr. Herbert, was also feeling the strain. 
He had all the four Sub-Commissions at work, and from time 
to time during this year (1858) he broke down — on one 
occasion under a sharp attack of pleurisy. It was now Miss 
Nightingale's turn to lecture him. She wrote to Mrs, 
Herbert, begging her not to let Sidney call. " I really am 
not ill," he wrote (March 18), " only washy and weak, while 
I always recover wonderfully, and paying you a visit 
to-morrow will do me no harm but the contrary." She 
wrote to Mr. Herbert himself, suggesting a cure at Malvern. 
" I should like to come," he said (Sept. 16), " and look at the 
Place which I have a notion I shall some day go to, and see 
you episodically, unless you had rather not be seen." But 
I do not think that either of the allies expected, or desired, 
the other to take the advice which they interchanged. Well 
or ill, each of them worked unrestingly. 


Upon the matter of Barracks, Mr. Herbert did the harder 
work.^ He inspected barracks and hospitals throughout the 
Kingdom ; he wrote or revised each report upon them. But 
he or Dr. Sutherland, or Captain Galton, or all of them, re- 
ported the results of each inspection to their " Chief," as they 
sometimes called her, and she was unfailing in suggestions 
and criticisms. When the London barracks were being over- 
hauled (for General Peel had obtained a substantial grant 
from the Treasury for immediate improvements), the 
" woman's touch " came into play. She called into counsel 
her Crimean colleague, Mr. Soyer, and took the improve- 

1 The original members of the Barracks and Hospitals Commission 
were Mr. Herbert, Dr. Sutherland (Miss Nightingale's constant colleague), 
and Captain Galton (married to her cousin). It was appointed October 
1857. Its General Report (presented to Parliament, 1861) was dated 
April 1 861 (see below, p. 388). It had previously issued many interim 
reports. Reconstituted, it ultimately became a permanent body (vol. ii. 
p. 64). 


ment of the kitchens in hand. The work was only just begun 
when Mr. Soyer died suddenly. " His death," she wrote to 
Captain Galton (Aug. 28), " is a great disaster. Others have 
studied cookery for the purposes of gormandizing, some for 
show, but none but he for the purpose of cooking large 
quantities of food in the most nutritious manner for great 
numbers of men. He has no successor. My only comfort is 
that you were imbued before his death with his doctrines, 
and that the Barracks Commission will now take up the 
matter for itself." In the work of the other three Sub- 
Commissions Miss Nightingale had a large share, Mr. 
Herbert, Dr. Sutherland, Dr. Farr (Statistics) were in 
constant consultation with her, personally or by correspond- 
ence. There are hundreds of letters to her at this period, 
full of technical detail. " I give in," writes Mr. Herbert ; 
" your arguments are not to be answered." " I want your 
help very much." " I send a disagreeable letter I have 
received from Sir J. Hall. I will call on you to-morrow and 
talk it over." " I send you a copy of the Instructions." 
" I want help and advice." At every stage of each trans- 
action the allies were in close co-operation. The corre- 
spondence with Dr. Sutherland is sometimes in a lighter 
vein, and Mrs. Sutherland's letters to Miss Nightingale are 
deeply affectionate. But the doctor, who was not always 
very business-like, sometimes tried the patience of the 
exacting Lady-in-Chief . Her aunt records a day when a tiff 
with Dr. Sutherland caused her niece a serious attack of 
palpitation of the heart. Mr. Herbert was ill at the time 
and was waiting for a draft, which Dr. Sutherland was to 
prepare, for submission to the Secretary of State. Miss 
Nightingale was requested to put pressure upon the doctor. 
At last the draft came, and Mr. Herbert did not like it. He 
begged Miss Nightingale to use her influence in obtaining 
some revisions. Dr. Sutherland did not take this move 
kindly, and declined to call upon her. The quarrel, however, 
was speedily composed. At a later date. Miss Nightingale 
spent some weeks in the house of William and Mary Howitt 
at Highgate. " It is not a mere phrase," wrote Mary Howitt, 
" when I say that we shall feel as if she had left a blessing 
behind." I suspect that this visit was in order to enable 


Miss Nightingale to keep a firmer touch upon the " Big 
Baby," as she and Mrs. Sutherland sometimes called the 
doctor. " This is the first day of grouse shooting, Caratina," 
wrote he, when the Barracks Commissioners were in the 
north ; " but as you will allow none of your ' wives ' to go 
to the moors, the festival has passed off without observance." 

Thus, then, the Reformers worked during 1858. Their 
main labours were interrupted in the middle of the year by a 
last fight over the Netley Hospital. Lord Panmure had gone 
ahead with the building in spite of Miss Nightingale's 
objections and of her conversion of Lord Palmerston to her 
views (p. 341). But since then, the Report of the Royal 
Commission had appeared, the Hospitals and Barracks Sub- 
Commission had presented an interim report against Netley, 
and there was a new Secretary of State. Mr. Herbert and 
Miss Nightingale made a hard fight, and she wrote a series of 
newspaper articles ^ in the hope of stirring up public opinion. 
But General Peel was actuated by the same motives that 
governed Lord Panmure. He appointed another Com- 
mittee to report on the adverse Report, and proceeded with 
the building. " Unhappily, the country which has led the 
van in sanitary science," says an impartial authority, " has 
as its chief miHtary hospital a building far from satisfactory." ^ 

Miss Nightingale's final defeat on this particular issue 
suggested to her the importance of instructing public opinion 
upon the whole question of Hospital Construction. She 
accordingly contributed two Papers on the subject to the 
Social Science Congress at Liverpool in October 1858. Her 
friend, Dr. Farr, who was present, reported the marked 
attention which the reading of the Papers attracted, and at 
the request of Lord Shaftesbury, the President of the 
Congress, Miss Nightingale presented her manuscript to the 
city of Liverpool as a memento of the occasion. These 
Papers were the germ of her famous Notes on Hospitals, to 
which we shall come in the next Part of this Memoir. 

^ See Bibliography A, No. lo. 

^ Professor F. de Chaumont in the gth ed. of the Encyclopcedia 
Britannica. Netley is, however, no longer the chief military hospital. 



On the main issue of Army Medical Reform, Miss Nightin- 
gale sought to influence public opinion by the distribution 
among carefully selected persons of her Notes on Matters 
affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of 
the British Army. The Notes were written, and for the most 
part printed, in the preceding year, and I have already 
described them. The distribution of them at this time 
brought her letters of encouragement from many of the most 
illustrious and influential personages in the land. The 
Prince Consort, in an autograph letter of thanks, took 
occasion to assure her once more of " the Queen's high ap- 
preciation of her services." The Princess Royal, then Crown 
Princess of Prussia, begged for a copy ; and Miss Nightingale, 
in reply (Nov. 9), asked Sir James Clark to express for her 
how " very gratifying the Princess Royal's kind message 
was. I cannot tell you the deep interest I feel in that young 
heart so full of all that is true and good, or with what pleasure 
I anticipate the benefit to her country and ours from her 
being what she is." These two women, between whom there 
were many points of sympathy, were often to correspond and 
to meet in later years. The Duke of Cambridge, in a par- 
ticularly cordial letter, assured Miss Nightingale " that the 
whole Army is most sensible of the devotion with which you 
may be said to have sacrificed yourself to its work on a 
recent memorable occasion, and I cannot but add my 
personal admiration of your noble conduct on that as on all 
other occasions." The Duke added the hope that from time 
to time he might have it in his power to carry out her 
" valuable suggestions for the comfort and welfare of the 
troops." Miss Nightingale often trounced the Commander- 
in-Chief in her correspondence. He had so little sympathy 
with any radical reform that she could not consider his 
popular title of " The Soldier's Friend " to be really well 
deserved. Yet she had a certain fondness for him, and was 
alive to his better qualities. She had seen him first during 
the Crimean War, and she recalled a characteristic incident. 
" What makes ' George ' popular," she wrote, " is this kind 


of thing. In going round the Scutari Hospitals at their 
worst time with me, he recognized a sergeant of the Guards 
(he has a royal memory, always a great passport to popu- 
larity) who had had at least one-third of his body shot away, 
and said to him with a great oath, calling him by his 
Christian and surname, ' Aren't you dead yet ? ' The man 
said to me afterwards, ' Sa feelin' o' Is Royal Ighness, wasn't 
it, m'm ? ' with tears in his eyes. George's manner is very 
popular, his oaths are popular, with the army. And he is 
certainly the best man, both of business and of nature, at the 
Horse Guards : that, even I admit. And there is no man I 
should like to see in his place." ^ 

Miss Nightingale was careful to send copies of her Notes 
to those who, by their pens, could influence public opinion. 
Among these was Harriet Martineau, to whom Miss Nightin- 
gale wrote (Nov. 30) : " The Report is in no sense public 
property. And I have a great horror of its being made use of 
after my death by Women's Missionaries and those kinds of 
people. I am brutally indifferent to the wrongs or the 
rights of my sex. And I should have been equally so to any 
controversy as to whether women ought or ought not to do 
what I have done for the Army ; though a woman, having 
the opportunity and not doing it, ought, I think, to be burnt 
alive," Miss Martineau, promising to be discreet, asked if 
she might make use of Miss Nightingale's facts and sug- 
gestions. The offer was promptly accepted, and Miss 
Martineau was supplied with copious powder and shot. 
Miss Nightingale was probably the more attracted by Miss 
Martineau's offer to popularise her Notes owing to a very 
earnest letter from Dean Milman. He had read the Notes 
" with serious attention and profound interest," and asked 
(Dec. 18) : " Is all this important knowledge, this strong 
practical good sense, this result of much toil, thought, 
experience to be confined to half-averted official ears, to be 
forced only on the reluctant attention of a few, and most of 
these too busy and perhaps too opinionated to profit by it ? 
Is it to be buried in that most undisturbed grave of wise 

^ Letter to Harriet Martineau, October 8, 1861. Large as were Miss 
Nightingale's schemes for army reorganization, she never dared to suggest 
the abolition of the Horse Guards and the retirement of its chief. 
VOL. I 2 C 


thought and useful information, a blue book ? that most 
repulsive, unapproached, unapproachable place of sepulture ? 
Surely you have not lived and laboured your life of devotion, 
your labour of love, to leave public opinion untouched and un- 
enlightened but by what may creep out, as the general result 
of your views, or what may be adopted by Government, per- 
haps imperfectly and parsimoniously ? Are the many, who 
alone by the expression of their judgment and feelings can 
keep the few up to their work, and encourage them by their 
approval and co-operation, to remain ignorant of what is of 
such vital import to the army, to the country, to mankind ? " 
A series of articles by Miss Martineau in The Daily News, and 
afterwards a popular volume,^ carried Miss Nightingale's sug- 
gestions, at second-hand, into a large circle. Between these 
two women there was a marked attraction. The corre- 
spondence about the illness and death of Miss Martineau's 
niece, and her reliance upon Miss Nightingale's sympathy, are 
particularly touching. Each of them had sorrows, each was 
seriously ill, and each alike at once turned to her pubHc work. 
At the end of 1858 Miss Nightingale put out one of the 
most effective of her controversial pieces. Her facts and 
figures about the mortality of the Army in the East, as 
printed in her Notes and in the Royal Commission's Report, 
had not passed unchallenged, and a pamphlet had appeared 
calhng them in question. Mr. Herbert and Miss Nightingale 
suspected in it the hand of Sir John Hall, and she immedi- 
ately prepared a reply. This is entitled A Contrihuiion to 
the Sanitary History of the British Army during the late War 
with Russia. It was published, early in 1859, anonymously, 
but all her friends detected her " Roman hand." The 
pamphlet which provoked it is dismissed in a contemptuous 
footnote : " An obscure pamphlet, circulated without a 
printer's name, reproduces nearly every possible statistical 
blunder on this and other points. It purports to be a 
defence of the defunct Army Medical Department, ' By a 
Non-Commissioner,' but it is more like b. jeu d' esprit." The 

1 England and her Soldiers, by Harriet Martineau, 1859. Miss Nightin- 
gale's " coxcomb " diagrams were reproduced in this volume. She 
revised Miss Martineau's MS., supplemented the publisher's fee to the 
author, and bought ^20 worth of the book for presentation to reading- 


answer contained in the body of Miss Nightingale's brochure 
is conclusive, and the " coxcombs " were repeated in a yet 
more telling and attractive form than before. It is the most 
concise, the most scathing, and the most eloquent of all 
her accounts of the preventable mortality which she had 
witnessed in the East. " In a few truthful words," wrote Sir 
John McNeill, in acknowledging an early copy (Dec. 26), "you 
have told the whole dreadful story, and I do not think that 
we shall hear any more of controversial medical statistics. 
' Facts are chiels that winna ding and downa be disputed.' 
So sang Burns, and he was seldom mistaken in his opinions. 
I have read every word of the Contribution, and pondered 
every column and diagram, and I come to the conclusion that 
it is complete and unanswerable, but that it would be dis- 
paraging to such a work to regard it as controversial. I wish 
with all my heart that every young officer in the British Army 
had a copy of it. The old I have little hope of." Miss 
Nightingale's mastery of the art of marshalling facts to logical 
conclusions was recognized by her election in 1858 as a 
member of the Statistical Society. 

The new year (1859) brought an event of great import- 
ance to the cause of Arm.y Reform. In March, Lord Derby's 
stop-gap government was defeated on Mr. Disraeli's Reform 
Bill, and after a general election Lord Palmerston returned 
to power. Mr. Sidney Herbert, who for some years had been 
working at army reform as an outsider, now became Secretary 
for War. " I must send you a line," he wrote to Miss 
Nightingale (June 13), " to tell you that I have undertaken 
the Ministry of War. I have undertaken it because in 
certain branches of administration I believe that I can be of 
use, but I do not disguise from myself the severity of the task 
nor the probability of my proving unequal to it. But I 
know that you will be pleased to hear of my being there. . . . 
I will try to ride down to you to-morrow afternoon. God 
bless you ! " Mr. Herbert's task was not rendered less 
severe by the appointment of Mr. Gladstone as Chancellor of 
the Exchequer. They were close and affectionate friends, 
but public economy was with Mr. Gladstone the greater 


friend. Much of Mr. Herbert's strength was exhausted in 
disputes with the Chancellor of the Exchequer over the 
question of the national defences. Mrs. Herbert sent to Miss 
Nightingale the current riddle : " Why is Gladstone like a 
lobster ? " " Because he is so good, but he disagrees with 
everybody." Mr. Herbert could by no means always count 
upon the Treasury for consent in all his schemes for improv- 
ing the sanitary and moral condition of the Army. Still he 
was able, as Secretary of State, to accomplish a great deal ; 
and it will be convenient here,^ — with some slight anticipa- 
tion, in certain cases, of chronological order — to summarize 
shortly the fruits of the long collaboration between Mr. 
Herbert and Miss Nightingale for the health of the British 
soldier. She herself wrote such a summary in 1861, in a 
Paper to which reference has been made already (p. 312), and 
I often use her own words. 

The Barracks and Hospitals Improvement Commission 

had already done a good deal when he came into office, and he 

continued the work. Buildings were ventilated and warmed. 

Drainage was introduced or improved. The water-supply 

was extended. The kitchens were remodelled. Gas was 

introduced in place of the couple of " dips," by the hght of 

which it was impossible for the men to read or pursue any 

occupation except smoking. Structural improvements were 

made in many cases, and Mr. Herbert, so far as he could 

extract money from the Treasury, reconstructed buildings 

which had been condemned by his Commission. This policy 

was abandoned for many years after his death, and later 

generations heard in consequence of sanitary scandals in 

barracks at Windsor and Dublin and elsewhere. The 

General Report of the Barracks and Hospitals Commission, 

dated April 1861, was presented to Parliament in that year, 

and many of Miss Nightingale's friends, on reading it, referred 

to it as " her book." They were not far wrong, for much of 

the Report, and especially the long section dealing with the 

proper principles of Hospital and Barrack Construction, was 

in large measure her work. 

Miss Nightingale, in order to ensure that such principles 
should be better understood and carried out in the future, 
induced Mr. Herbert to appoint a special Barracks Works 


Committee, " to report as to measures to simplify and im- 
prove the system under which all works and buildings, other 
than fortifications, are constructed, repaired, and maintained, 
in order to give a more direct responsibility to the persons 
employed in those duties." Of this committee Captain 
Galton was a member, and the Draft Report was submitted 
to Miss Nightingale for criticism and suggestion. ^ There 
are many causes to which the improved health of the Army 
in our own time may be attributed, but the chief of them has 
probably been the improvement of barrack accommodation, 
and for this the name of Florence Nightingale deserves to be 
held in grateful remembrance by the Army and by the nation. 

As a supplement to the improvements in barrack 
kitchens, Mr. Herbert introduced a reform in a direction 
which Miss Nightingale had pressed upon Lord Panmure's 
attention ^ ; he established a School of Practical Cookery 
at Aldershot, for the training of regimental and hospital 
cooks in the art of giving men a wholesome meal. Miss 
Nightingale had been painfully impressed in the Crimea by 
the importance of this reform. 

The second Sub-Commission was charged with the duty 
of reorganizing the Army medical statistics. This was one 
of the requirements of rational reform which had most 
forcibly struck Miss Nightingale in the East. The emphasis 
which she laid upon this side of her experience, the persist- 
ence with which she pressed the matter, the statistical skill 
with which she showed the way to a better system, are 
amongst the most valuable of her services to the cause of 
Army Reform. When the suggestions of the Sub-Commis- 
sion were carried out, the British Army Statistics became 
the best and most useful then obtainable in Europe.^ 

The third Sub-Commission was to carry out another of 

^ For its appointment, see below, p. 405 ; and for the successive Com- 
mittees, etc., in connection with barracks, see the Index, Vol. II. {under 
Barrack) . 

^ See above, p. 331. The School of Cookery at Aldershot is mentioned 
in the General Report of the Barracks Commission, 1861, p. 114 n. 

^ The Committee on Army Medical Statistics (Mr. Herbert, Sir A. 
TuUoch, and Dr. Farr) reported in June 1858, and its Report was printed 
in 1 861. In the same year the First Annual Statistical Report on the 
Health of the Army (issued in March) was printed ; it was compiled by Dr. 
T. Graham Balfour, who was appointed head of the statistical branch of 
the Army Medical Department. 


Miss Nightingale's favourite ideas : the estabhshment of an 
Army Medical School. There were here the most wearisome 
delays and obstructions/ and it was not until Mr. Herbert 
himself became Secretary of State that he was able to give 
effect to his Sub-Commission's Report. And even then, 
as soon as the Minister's personal oversight was averted, 
the War Office " Subs." set to work to defeat their chief. 
Mr. Herbert had appointed the staff in 1859, but it was not 
till September i860 that the first students arrived at Fort 
Pitt, Chatham. They promptly came to the conclusion 
" that the School was a hoax." As well they might, for the 
School was without fittings or instruments of any kind ! 
The explanation, which may be read elsewhere,^ is remark- 
able even in the annals of departmental muddles. There 
was, apparently, no method known to the red-tape of the 
routine-men whereby the School could be fitted, and it 
might have remained empty indefinitely, but that a 
trenchant letter from Miss Nightingale secured the personal 
intervention of the Secretary of State. " There ! At last ! " 
wrote Mr. Herbert to her, in forwarding the official order 
at the end of its long travels through departments and sub- 
departments. The Army Medical School was peculiarly 
Miss Nightingale's child, and she watched over its early 
stages with constant solicitude. Mr. Herbert had commis- 
sioned her, in consultation with Sir James Clark, to make 
the Regulations. She had the nomination of the professors. 
For the chair of Hygiene she nominated Dr. E. A. Parkes, 
whose acquaintance she had made during the Crimean War. 
It would be difficult to exaggerate the services which the 
stimulating teaching of this great sanitarian rendered to the 
cause of military hygiene. He had much correspondence 
with Miss Nightingale in connection with the syllabus of 
his first course of lectures. In every administrative diffi- 
culty the professors went to her for help. The correspond- 
ence between her and Dr. Aitken ^ is especially voluminous. 

^ The story of them may be read in Stanmore, vol. ii. pp. 364-8. 

* Stanmore, vol. ii. p. 367. 

' Sir Wilham Aitken {182 5-1 892), M.D. of Edinburgh ; assistant- 
pathologist to a medical commission during the Crimean War ; F.R.S. 
1873 ; knighted, 1887. He held the professorship from i860 tillthe year 
of his death. 


She had made a successful fight, against much opposition, 
to have pathology included in the professoriate, and Dr. 
Aitken was ultimately appointed to the chair. He it was 
who set Miss Nightingale in motion about the fittings of the 
School. He often asked her to " give us another push." 
" Kind thanks," he wrote (March 1861) when a further 
hitch had arisen, " for placing our train on the proper line." 
Her intervention at headquarters was necessary even to 
extract pay for the professors. " I have just received an 
intimation from the War Office," Dr. Aitken wrote to her 
(Aug. 7, i860), " that Sir John Kirkland has been authorised 
to issue my pay ; so I presume the numerous officials con- 
cerned have been able to satisfy each other that I am in 
existence. The ' at once ' in this instance is equal to six 
days — an activity I am inclined to believe is due to your 
exertions on Sunday." Sunday was the day of the week on 
which, if on no other, she always saw Mr. Herbert. Dr. 
Aitken was sarcastic, and not without cause, about the 
Circumlocution Office ; but it is possible that the fault was 
not always only on one side. Professors are said to be 
sometimes " children " in matters of business ; and on one 
tale of woe addressed to Miss Nightingale, the docket (in 
Dr. Sutherland's handwriting, but doubtless at her dicta- 
tion) is this : "I hope the present difficulty has been got 
over, but it will be well to bear in mind that the School is 
so nearly connected with the administrative part of the War 
Office, that all your future proceedings, whether by minute 
or ouherwise, should be concise and practical." The School 
survived the perils of its infancy, and introduced a most 
beneficent reform by affording means of instruction in mili- 
tary hygiene and practice to candidates for the Army 
Medical Service. " Formerly," as Miss Nightingale wrote, 
" young men were sent to attend sick and wounded soldiers, 
who perhaps had never dressed a serious wound, or never 
attended a bedside, except in the midst of a crowd of 
students, following in the wake of some eminent lecturer, 
who certainly had never been instructed in the most ordinary 
sanitary knowledge, although one of their most important 
functions was hereafter to be the prevention of disease in 
climates and under circumstances where prevention is every- 


thing, and medical treatment often little or nothing." Miss 
Nightingale's services as the true founder of the School were 
publicly acknowledged at the time. Dr. Longmore, the 
Professor of Military Surgery, told the students that it was 
she " whose opinion, derived from large experience and 
remarkable sagacity in observation, exerted an especial 
influence in originating and establishing this School." ^ " In 
the Army Medical School just instituted," wrote Sir James 
Clark, " hygiene will form the most important branch of 
the young medical officer's instruction. For originating 
this School we have to thank Miss Nightingale, who, had 
her long and persevering efforts effected no other improve- 
ment in the Army, would have conferred by this alone an 
inestimable boon upon the British soldier." ^ 

The School was afterwards moved to Netley, It is now 
in London, is one of the Medical Schools in the University, 
and is placed in convenient proximity to a military hospital. 
The Tate Gallery, on the Embankment at Millbank, stands 
between two buildings which are of peculiar interest to any 
one concerned in the life and work of Florence Nightingale. 
To the east of the Gallery is the Royal Alexandra Hospital, 
a general military hospital for the London district. It is 
built, of course, on the " pavilion " plan, and in every other 
respect conforms to Miss Nightingale's ideas of what a 
hospital should be — with many additions to its resources, 
which the progress of science has suggested since her day. 
A complete apparatus for X-ray treatment, capable of being 
packed into five cases for service in the field, is likely to 
attract the special attention of a visitor. But in connection 
with Miss Nightingale there was something else which struck 
me more. As I went through the surgical wards with the 
Commandant, the smart " orderlies " (old style, now the 
trained men of the Army Medical Corps) stood at attention. 
The Colonel entered into conversation with the Sergeant of a 
ward. He was awaiting promotion until he had qualified 
in the hospital, under the Matron, Sisters, and Staff Nurses. 
Promotion in the Corps is now dependent on an examination 

^ Introductory Address at Fort Pitt, Chatham, October 2, i860, by 
Deputy-Inspector-General T. Longmore, p. 7. 

^ Introduction, p. 20, to a new edition (i860) of Andrew Combe's 
Management of Infancy. 


plus a certificate from the nursing authorities. Into how 
great a thing has the introduction of female nursing for the 
Army, due to Miss Nightingale, grown, and how ironical 
are some of time's revenges which the development has 
brought with it ! Originally the female nurses occupied 
the lowest place ; sometimes they were little more than 
superior domestics, often they were amateurs, and their 
position was always a little nondescript. Now they repre- 
sent the most highly-trained and professional element, and 
without a certificate from them no male hospital attendant 
can win full promotion ! And there was another thing that 
struck me. After a tour of the surgical wards, I inquired 
about the medical wards ; but time was pressing, " and you 
would find little to see there," said the Colonel, " for the 
Army is so healthy in these days that there are few medical 
cases." 1 

On the west of the Tate Gallery stands another, and a 
larger, pile of buildings. These are occupied by the Royal 
Army Medical College, through which every Army Medical 
Officer has now to pass both a preliminary and a post- 
graduate course. Shortly before I visited the College, I 
had been reading the large mass of Miss Nightingale's 
papers which contain her first suggestions for the foundation 
of the school, with her drafts for its rules and regulations ; 
and which describe the struggles and difficulties of its humble 
infancy. And then I was taken through the noble institution 
into which it has developed ; equipped with large labora- 
tories which are, I believe, among the best in the country, 
with smaller laboratories for private research ; with a depart- 
ment for those " cultures " which are said to have done so 
much to preserve the health of the Army in India ^ ; with 
a spacious lecture-theatre, a fine library, a large museum ; 
and with handsome mess-rooms for the comfort and con- 
venience of studious youth. The transition was like a 

^ It should perhaps be explained that venereal cases are treated in a 
separate hospital. 

* This is a department of the College which would not have appealed 
to Miss Nightingale. She loathed and mocked at inoculation. " Oh, yes, 
I know," she once said; " they will give you small-pox or diphtheria or 
plague or anything you like. You pays your money, and you takes your 


transformation-scene in a pantomime. The Fairy God- 
mother of the College would have rejoiced to see it. Only 
one thing seemed to me to be wanting. There are portraits 
or other memorials of many of the men whose acquaintance 
we have made in these pages. In the entrance lobby there 
is a bust of Dr. Thomas Alexander, whose appointment 
as Director -General Miss Nightingale procured. In the 
smoking-room there are portraits of the first professors whom 
she nominated. I noticed no memorial of the two founders 
to whom the original institution of the College was due — 
Sidney Herbert and Florence Nightingale. 

The last of the four Sub-Commissions — the " wiping " 
Sub-Commission — had very varied duties assigned to it, 
and there was no branch of the reform bill which encoun- 
tered more stubborn opposition from the permanent officials. 
One of Mr. Herbert's many letters to Miss Nightingale on 
the subject speaks of the " gross ignorance, and darkness 
beyond all hope " of the principal obstructive, who main- 
tained that the idea of a sanitary official was all fudge. 
Some of the work of this Sub-Commission need not be 
detailed here. It framed a new Army Medical Officers' 
Warrant (issued by General Peel in 1858), and reorganized 
the Army Medical Department (1859). These were useful 
steps at the time, but there have been so many new warrants 
and so many War Office reorganizations since then that 
this part of the reforms of Mr. Herbert and Miss Nightingale 
belongs in any detail only to ancient history. The case is 
different with the general work of the Wiping Sub-Commis- 
sion. Here also there have been new developments, and 
some of the forms have been changed ; but in substance, 
these have all been built upon the foundations laid in the 
years 1859-60. To Miss Nightingale primarily, and to 
her more than to any other individual, is due the recognition 
of a principle which may seem self-evident at the present 
time, but which was entirely novel in her day — the principle 
that the Army Medical Department should care for the 
soldier's health as well as for his sickness. The Sub-Com- 
mission — or to go behind the form to the reality, Miss 
Nightingale and Mr. Herbert — drew up a Code for intro- 
ducing the sanitary element in the Army, defining the 

alrpul 18^8 


positions of Commanding and Medical Officers and their 
relative duties regarding the soldier's health, and con- 
stituting the regimental surgeon the sanitary adviser of his 
commanding officer. The same code contained regulations 
for organizing General Hospitals, and for improving the 
administration of Regimental Hospitals, both in peace and 
during war. Formerly, general hospitals in the field had 
to be improvised, on no defined principles and on no defined 
personal responsibility. The wonder is, not that they broke 
down, as they did in all our wars, but that they could be 
made to stand at all. In all our wars, again, the general 
hospitals had been signal failures — examples, as during the 
earlier months at Scutari, of how to kill, not to cure. The 
general hospital system, devised in the Code — including its 
governor, principal medical officer, captain of orderlies, 
female nurses, and their Superintendent (Mrs. Shaw Stewart) 
— was realized in 1861 in the hospital at Woolwich. 

There were some other reforms introduced by Mr. 
Herbert, as Secretary of State, which owed their origin to 
Miss Nightingale's experiences, observation, and sugges- 
tions. In January 1861 Mr. Herbert issued a new Purveyor's 
Warrant and Regulations. Hitherto " the Purveying De- 
partment, like many others, had no well-defined position, 
duties, or responsibilities. It was efficient or inefficient 
almost by chance. Like other departments, it broke down 
when tried by war ; and all its defects were visited on the 
sick and wounded men, for whose special benefit it professed 
to exist." The new Code " defined with precision the duties 
of each class of purveying officers, together with their rela- 
tion to the Army Medical Department. They provided all 
necessaries and comforts for men in hospital (both in the 
field and at home) on fixed scales, instead of requiring 
sick and wounded men (even in the field) to bring with them 
into hospital articles for their own use, which they had lost 
before reaching it." The reader will remember how largely 
purveying defects entered into Miss Nightingale's difficulties 
in the East, and a reference to her letters from Scutari will 
show that Mr. Herbert's Code was based on the broad lines 
of her suggestions. As is hardly surprising, since she drafted 
the Code in consultation with Sir John McNeill. 


Mr. Herbert also appointed a Committee to reorganize 
the Army Hospital Corps (i860). " In former times there 
were no proper attendants on the sick. For regimental 
hospitals a steady man was appointed hospital sergeant, 
and two or three soldiers, fit for nothing else, were sent into 
the hospital to be under the orders of the medical officer, 
who, if he were fortunate enough to find one man fit to nurse 
a patient, was sure to lose him by his being recalled ' to 
duty ' ; sometimes, indeed, men were nominated in rotation 
over the sick in hospital as they would mount guard over a 
store. No special training was considered necessary ; no 
one, except the medical officer, who was helpless, had the 
least idea that attendance on the sick is as much a special 
business as medical treatment. Unsuccessful attempts had 
been made to organize a corps of orderlies, unconnected 
with regiments ; the result was most unsatisfactory. Mr. 
Herbert's Committee proposed to constitute a corps — the 
members of which, for regimental purposes, were to be care- 
fully selected by the commanding and medical officers — 
specially trained for their duties, and then attached per- 
manently to the regimental hospital." This reform, which 
owed much to Miss Nightingale's suggestions, was carried 
into effect shortly after Mr. Herbert's death. 

Mr. Herbert also took up those questions of the soldier's 
moral health in which Miss Nightingale had been a pioneer.^ 
In 1861 he appointed a Committee ^ to consider how best to 
provide soldiers' day-rooms and institutes, in order to 
counteract the moral evils supposed to be inseparable from 
garrisons and camps. The Committee, of which Miss 
Nightingale's friends, Colonel Lefroy, Captain Galton, and 
Dr. Sutherland were members, showed that " the men's 
barracks can be made more of a home, can be better pro- 
vided with libraries and reading-rooms ; that separate 
rooms can be attached to barracks, where men can meet their 
comrades, sit with them, talk with them, have their news- 
paper and their coffee, if they want it, play innocent games, 
and write letters ; that every barrack, in short, may easily 

^ See above, p. 281. 

^ This Committee received its instructions on Feb. 17, and reported 
on Aug. 24, 1861. The Report (1861) is No. 2867 in the Parhamentary 


be provided with a kind of soldiers' club, to which the men 
can resort when off duty, instead of to the everlasting 
barrack-room or the demoralizing dram-shop ; and that in 
large camps or garrisons, such as Aldershot and Portsmouth, 
the men may easily have a club of their own out of barracks. 
The Committee also recommended increased means of occu- 
pation, in the way of soldiers' workshops, out-door games 
and amusements, and rational recreation by lectures and 
other means. The plan was tried with great success at 
Gibraltar, Chatham, and Montreal. Mr. Herbert's latest 
act was to direct an inquiry at Aldershot as to the best means 
of introducing the system there." Miss Nightingale, in thus 
summarizing the case, did not state, what her correspondence 
shows to have been the fact, that she had been the 
prime mover in the appointment of the Committee ; 
that, as already related (p. 351), she had worked hard 
to obtain a reading-room, etc., at Aldershot ; and that, 
in the case of Gibraltar, the equipment of the room owed 
much to gifts from her own private purse and to the con- 
tributions of personal friends (Mrs. Gaskell among them) 
whom she had interested in the scheme. Here, as in so 
many other directions. Miss Nightingale's work as a pioneer 
has been greatly developed ; and no modern barrack is 
deemed complete without its regimental institute, with 
recreation room, reading-room, coffee-room, and lecture- 
room, while means of out-door recreation and shops for 
various trades are also provided. 


In recounting Mr. Herbert's reforms. Miss Nightingale 
brought the results of them, after her usual manner, to the 
statistical test. She prefixed to her Memoir some coloured 
diagrams showing how Mr. Herbert found the Army and how 
he left it. In the three years 1859-60-61, just one-half 
of the Englishmen who entered the Army died (at home 
stations) per annum as formerly died. The total mortality 
at home stations from all diseases had become less than was 
formerly the mortality from consumption and chest diseases 
alone. The results of comparisons of British armies in the 


field were equally striking. The China expedition put the 
reforms to the test. " An expeditionary force was sent to 
the opposite side of the world, into a hostile country, notori- 
ous for its epidemic diseases. Every required arrangement 
for the preservation of health was made, with the result 
that the mortality of this force, including wounded, was little 
more than 3 per cent per annum, while the ' constantly 
sick ' in hospital were about the same as at home. During 
the first months of the Crimean War the mortality was at 
the rate of 60 per cent, and the ' constantly sick ' in the 
hospitals were sevenfold those in the war hospitals in China." 
The improvement in the health of the Army has, in 
peace at any rate, been progressive. In 1857 ^^e annual 
rate of mortality in the Army at home was i7"5 per 1000. 
Forty years later it had fallen to 3'42. In 1911 it was 2*47. 
Besides all this, Mr. Herbert undertook in 1859 the chair- 
manship of the Royal Commission on the Sanitary State of 
the Indian Army, Other work of his in connection with the 
Army is well known ; and some of it — such as his Fortifica- 
tion Scheme — did not endure, but these matters do not 
concern us here. His measures for the health and well- 
being of the soldiers were what Miss Nightingale was in- 
terested in ; and this joint work of theirs has been of lasting 
benefit. After Sidney Herbert's death there was an arrest 
in reform ; but the main lines laid down by him have been 
followed to our own day. In 1896 a friend in the War 
Office went through Miss Nightingale's Memoir of Sidney 
Herbert for her, and noted the present state of things in 
relation to it. The Army Sanitary Committee was still in 
existence. The School of Cookery at Aldershot was in the 
Queen's Regulations. The General Military Hospitals were 
maintained. The Army Medical School had been moved to 
Netley. The Army Medical Statistics were still published 
annually. The position of Army Medical Officers had been 
further improved. There was a regularly organized Medical 
Staff Corps. The recommendations of the Barracks Works 
Committee of 1861 had been carried out, with the result 
that the engineer officers had more individual responsibility, 
and were better acquainted than formerly with the details 
of healthy barrack and hospital construction. Soldiers' 


Institutes had been put up on War Office land at several 
stations. Recreation and reading-rooms were to be found 
in most barracks, and no new barrack was erected without 
them. Such changes as have taken place since 1896 have 
been for the better, as I have indicated in preceding pages ; 
for the better, and more in line with Miss Nightingale's ideas. 
Her great work, Notes on the Army, contained, as events were 
to prove, not only the scheme of all Sidney Herbert's re- 
forms (except those relating to defence), but the germ, and 
often the details, of further reforms (within the same sphere) 
which have continued to our own day. During the years of 
her co-operation with Mr. Herbert, Miss Nightingale chafed 
at obstruction and delay, and after his death she cried out 
bitterly at the cessation of further progress. But in the 
end it was as her wise mentor. Sir John McNeill, wrote 
(March 26, 1859) : — " It vexes me greatly to find that you 
are thwarted and annoyed by such things as you tell me of, 
but I am not in the least surprised. I did not expect you 
to accomplish so much in so short a time. Be assured that 
the progress from a worse to a better system is in almost 
every department of human affairs a progress slow and in- 
terrupted. Do not then be discouraged. If you have not 
done all that you desired — and who ever did ? — you have 
done more than any one else ever did or could have done, 
and the good you have done will live after you, growing from 
generation to generation. I do not remember any instance 
in which new ideas have made more rapid progress." 

The bearing of the new ideas in relation to the Army 
was pointed out in Miss Nightingale's summary of Mr. 
Herbert's services. " He will be remembered chiefly," she 
wrote, " as the first War Minister who ever seriously set 
himself to the task of saving life, who ever took the trouble 
to master a difficult subject so wisely and so well as to be 
able to husband the resources of this country, in which human 
life is more expensive than in any other, more expensive than 
anything else, and to preserve the efficiency of its defenders." 
In this work, during Mr. Herbert's term of office, as in 
the preceding years. Miss Nightingale was his constant 
assistant, and often the originator. They conferred per- 
sonally or by letter almost every day. No move in 


the sphere of sanitary reform was made by the Minister 
for War until he had taken her opinion. Every draft 
was submitted to her criticism and suggestion. When 
Mr. Herbert took office, his wife wrote (June i6, 1859) to 
thank Miss Nightingale for her " dear note of congratula- 
tions," adding, " He entirely agrees with your suggestions 
of this morning, and I am copying your Circular Note for 
the four pundits." In the following month (July 26), he 
sends her the proposed Sanitary Regulations : "I shall be 
very much obliged if you will go over the papers with 
Sutherland." " Sidney is coming to see you to-day (Aug. 
13) to talk about the Regulations." Four days later : 
" Can Miss Nightingale give me the names of some Governors 
for our new General Hospitals ? " In later months, the 
scheme for the Medical School and the new Regulations for 
Purveyors were discussed between them. On one occasion 
a dispatch from Miss Nightingale, enclosed under cover to 
Mrs. Herbert, followed the Minister to Windsor : "I gave 
your letter to your ' Sovereign ' ; it's lucky the real one did 
not see your cover." The correspondence of i860 is to like 
effect. " Here is a dispute which is Hebrew to me ; would 
you look it over with Sutherland ? " "I have written in 
our joint sense," and so forth. Miss Nightingale supplied, 
however, more than detail — for one thing, persistent 
stimulus. At the end it was stimulus to a dying man. 




Cavour's last words : La cosa va. That is the life I should like to have 
lived. That is the death I should like to die. — Sidney Herbert {as 
recorded by Florence Nightingale). 

The progress of the reforms, sketched in the foregoing 
chapter, was somewhat impeded, and an extension of them 
to a further point was altogether arrested, by a cause against 
which neither Mr. Herbert's courageous spirit nor Miss 
Nightingale's resolute will could avail. The Minister's 
health broke down under the long strain ; he was stricken by 
disease ; and, with failing health, his grasp of affairs was 
necessarily relaxed. 

The beginning of the end came early in December i860. 
" A sad change," wrote Miss Nightingale from Hampstead 
(Dec. 6) to her uncle, " has come over the spirit of my (not 
dreams, but) too strong realities. Mr. Herbert is said to 
have a fatal disease. You know I don't believe in fatal 
diseases, but fatal to his work I believe this will be. He came 
over himself to tell me and to discuss what part of the work 
had better be given up. I shall always respect the man for 
having seen him so. He was not low, but awe-struck. It 
was settled that he should give up the House of Commons, 
but keep on office at least till some of the things are done 
which want doing. It is another reason for my wishing to 
go to town soon, as he is particularly forbidden damp, and to 
see him here always entails a night-ride." To their meeting 
on this occasion, early in December, Miss Nightingale often 
referred in letters of a later date, Mr. Herbert had put 
before her the three alternatives between which he had to 

VOL. I 401 2D 


choose. He might retire from pubhc hfe altogether. He 
might retire from office, retaining his seat in the House of 
Commons. Or he might retain his office, and leave the 
House of Commons for the House of Lords. The first 
alternative, though it might seem to promise the best hope 
of recovery, was soon put away : it offered small temptation 
to a man of Herbert's buoyancy of spirit and high sense of 
public duty. The second alternative was that to which he 
at first inclined. He was essentially a politician, and a 
" House of Commons man." He had sat for twenty-eight 
years in that House, where his fine appearance, his personal 
charm, and his considerable gift of eloquence made him a 
commanding and popular figure. To go to the House of 
Lords was, as he thought and said, to be " shelved." ^ 
Miss Nightingale urged him with all her formidable powers of 
persuasion, to make the sacrifice for the sake of their un- 
finished work. And so it was agreed ; at the cost of many a 
pang on his part, as he confessed, but to the relief of his 
wife. " A thousand thanks," she wrote to Miss Nightingale, 
" for all you have said and done," and " God bless you for 
all your love and sympathy." Mr. Herbert retained office, 
resigned his seat in the Commons, and was created Lord 
Herbert of Lea. 

Miss Nightingale did not fully realize how ill Lord 
Herbert was. She did not remember that a life entirely laid 
out, as hers was, for work, and freed from all distraction, 
involves less strain than one in which social ties, general 
conversation, family responsibilities and journeyings to and 
fro fill up the time between hours of work. And she was 
passionately set upon the accomplishment of the work in 
which they were engaged ; she longed to see it crowned and 
made secure. Every step already taken by Mr. Herbert in 
the War Office had been an administrative improvement. 
" The great principle involved in his reforms " was, she wrote, 
" to simplify procedure, to abolish divided responsibility, to 
define clearly the duties of each head of a department, and 
of each class of office ; to hold heads responsible for their 

^ It was Lord Herbert, who, on sitting down after his first speech in 
the House of Lords, and on being asked by a friend beside him whether he 
had found it difficult, rephed, " Difficult ! It was like addressing sheeted 
tombstones by torchlight." 


respective departments, with direct communication with the 
Secretary of State." ^ The cause of Army Reform would 
not be completed, the permanence of the improvements 
already made would not be secured, unless every depart- 
ment of the War Office was similarly reorganized under a 
general and coherent scheme. So Miss Nightingale urged 
her friend forward to " one fight more, the best and the last." 
The War Office, she had written to him (Nov. 18, 1859), " is 
a very slow office, an enormously expensive office, and one 
in which the Minister's intentions can be entirely negatived 
by all his sub-departments and those of each of the sub- 
departments by every other." Mr. Herbert had agreed. A 
departmental committee had been appointed to report upon 
reorganization, and Lord de Grey^ (who was Under-Secretary 
until Mr. Herbert went to the Lords) had drafted a scheme. 
This was the scheme which in substance Miss Nightingale 
now urged Lord Herbert to carry through. But the Horse 
Guards was on the alert to mark the least infringement of its 
privileges, and Sir Benjamin Hawes, the Permanent Under- 
Secretary at the War Office, was copious with objections. 
There are amongst Miss Nightingale's papers many drafts 
in which she and Dr. Sutherland reorganized the War Office 
from top to bottom. Sir Benjamin might have smiled 
rather grimly, and then set himself with the greater deter- 
mination to keep things as they were, had he seen how near 
the bottom was the place into which Miss Nightingale 
proposed to reorganize him. She was quite frank about it. 
" The scheme will probably result in Hawes's resignation," 
she wrote ; " that is another of its advantages." To re- 
organize the War Office on paper is an occupation which, 
during fifty following years, was to beguile the leisure of 
amateurs, and to fill with disappointed hopes the laborious 
days of many a Minister. To carry out any such scheme 
into practice is a task which only a Minister, in full fighting 
force, could hope to accomplish. It was beyond the power 
of a dying man. 

Miss Nightingale had her fears from the first. " Our 

^ Army Reform under Lord Herbert, pp. 4-5. 

^ Better known as the Marquis of Ripon, to which rank he was promoted 
in 1871. 


scheme of reorganization," she wrote to Sir John McNeill 
(Jan. 17, 1861), " is at last launched at the War Office ; but I 
feel that Hawes may make it fail : there is no strong hand 
over him." Lord Herbert struggled on manfully with his 
many tasks (including, it should be remembered, constant 
dispute with Mr. Gladstone over the Army Estimates), but 
his strength grew constantly less. At last he had to confess 
that, on the matter which Miss Nightingale had urged him 
to carry through, he was beaten : — 

{Lord Herbert to Miss Nightingale.) June 7 [1861]. . . . 
As to the organization I am at my wits' end. The real truth is 
that I do not understand it. I have not the bump of system in 
me. I believe more in good men than in good systems. De 
Grey understands it much better. . . . [He then describes 
certain minor reforms in personnel, including a definite sphere 
of responsibility for Captain Galton.] This I should like to do 
before I go. And now comes the question, when is that to be 
and what had I best do and what leave to be done by others. I 
feel that I am not now doing justice to the War Office or myself. 
On days when the morning is spent on a sofa drinking gulps of 
brandy till I am fit to crawl down to the Ofhce, I am not very 
energetic when I get there. I have still two or three matters 
which I should like to settle and finish, but I am by no means 
clear that the organization of the Office is one of them. . . . 
[Further official details.] I cannot end even this long letter 
without a word on a subject of which my mind is full and yours 
will be too — Cavour. What a Hfe ! what a hfe ! and what a 
death ! I know of no fifty lives which could be put in com- 
petition with his. It casts a shade over all Europe. While he 
lived, one felt so confident for Italy, that he could hold his own 
against Austria, against the wild Italians, against the Pope, 
and above all against L. Napoleon. But what a glorious career ! 
and what a work done in one life ! I don't know where to look 
for anything to compare with it. 

Cavour had died the day before, and his last recorded 
words were of his Cause : la cosa va. The pathos with which 
the events of the next few weeks were to invest this letter 
from Sidney Herbert made a deep impression upon Miss 
Nightingale. Among some pencilled jottings of hers, written 
thirty or forty years after, she recalled phrases in the letter 
and in conversations of the same date. But, at the immedi- 
ate moment. Lord Herbert's confession of failure filled her 


with despairing vexation. Sir John McNeill, to whom she 
poured out her soul, took the truer view of the case. It was 
sad, he admitted (June 18), that Lord Herbert should have 
been " beaten on his own chosen ground by Ben Hawes. 
But," he added, " the truth, I suspect, is that he has been 
beaten by disease, and not by Ben." " What strikes me in 
this great defeat," she replied (June 21), "more painfully 
even than the loss to the Army is the triumph of the bureau- 
cracy over the leaders — the political aristocracy who at 
least advocate higher principles. A Sidney Herbert beaten 
by a Ben Hawes is a greater humiliation really (as a matter 
of principle) than the disaster of Scutari." 

Disease held Lord Herbert in its grasp, but with in- 
domitable spirit he worked on at matters, other than re- 
organization, in which he and Miss Nightingale were specially 
interested. One of these matters was the establishment of a 
General Military Hospital at Woolwich. " Among the few 
practical things," wrote Miss Nightingale to Sir John 
McNeill (June 21), " which I hope to succeed in saving from 
the general wreck of the War Office is the organization of one 
General Hospital on your plan. Colonel Wilbraham has 
consented to be Governor. Last week we made a list of the 
staff, and the names were approved by Lord Herbert. 
There has been an immense uproar, perhaps no more than 
you anticipated, from the Army Medical Department and 
the Horse Guards." Lord Herbert was to send her the draft 
of the Governor's Commission, and she asked Sir John 
McNeill's assistance in revising it. Then she was requested 
to name a Superintendent of nurses. Her choice fell upon 
one of her Crimean colleagues, Mrs. Shaw Stewart, an 
admirable, though a somewhat " difficult " lady, who had 
now quarrelled with Miss Nightingale, but whose efficiency 
marked her out for the post. Two other of Lord Herbert's 
last official acts referred also to the health of the British 
soldier, and each was suggested by Miss Nightingale. One 
was the appointment of the Barracks Works Committee 
(June 6) already mentioned (p. 389) ; the other, the appoint- 
ment of Captain Galton and Dr. Sutherland as Commis- 
sioners, with Mr. J. J. Frederick as Secretary, to improve 
the Barracks and Hospitals on the Mediterranean Station. 


By the end of June, Lord Herbert's health had become 
worse, and he was ordered abroad to Spa. On July 9 he 
called at the Burhngton Hotel to say good-bye to Miss 
Nightingale. They never met again. A week later, he 
wrote to her from Spa : — 

I enclose a letter from Mrs. Shaw Stewart. To cut matters 
short and start the thing, I have begged her to select the nurses 
on their own terms. I mean as to qualifications, as the Regula- 
tions define salary, etc. So I hope we shall at any rate start the 
thing now. I have written an undated letter of resignation to 
Palmerston to be used whenever convenient to him. I have not 
written it without a pang, but I beUeve it to be the right and best 
course. I believe Lewis, with de Grey for under-secretary, is to 
be my successor. I can fancy no fish more out of water than 
Lewis amidst Armstrong guns and General Officers, but he is a 
gentleman, an honest man, and de Grey will be invaluable for 
the office and for many of the especial interests to which I specially 
looked. I have a letter from Codrington proposing another site 
for the new branch Institute. I have sent it to Galton. I wish 
I had any confidence that you are as much better as I am. 

Lord Herbert's buoyancy of spirit remained to him when 
physical strength was quickly ebbing. He became worse, 
and, on July 25, left Spa for home. He died at Wilton on 
August 2. "To the last," wrote his sister to Miss Nightin- 
gale, " he had the same charm, that dear winning smile, that 
almost playful, pretty way of saying everything." But 
among his last articulate words were these : " Poor Florence ! 
Poor Florence ! Our joint work unfinished." 


The death of Sidney Herbert was a heavy blow to Miss 
Nightingale — the heaviest, perhaps, which she ever had to 
suffer. It meant not only the loss of an old friend and com- 
panion, in whose society she had constantly lived and 
moved for five years. It meant also the interruption of 
their joint work, which was more to her than life itself. She 
felt in the severance of their alliance the true bitterness of 
death : — 

{Miss Nightingale to her Father.) Hampstead, Aug. 21 
[1861]. Dear Papa — Indeed your sympathy is very dear to me. 


So few people know in the least what I have lost in my dear 
master. Indeed I know no one but myself who had it to lose. 
For no two people pursue together the same object, as I did with 
him. And when they lose their companion by death, they have 
in fact lost no companionship. Now he takes my hfe with him. 
My work, the object of my life, the means to do it, all in one, 
depart with him. " Grief fills the room up of my absent " master. 
I cannot say it " walks up and down " with me. For I don't 
walk up and down. But it " eats " and sleeps and wakes with 
me. Yet I can truly say that I see it is better that God should 
not work a miracle to save Sidney Herbert, altho' his death 
involves the misfortune, moral and physical, of five hundred 
thousand men, and altho' it would have been but to set aside 
a few trifling physical laws to save him. ..." The righteous 
perisheth and no man layeth it to heart." The Scripture goes 
on to say " none considering that he is taken away from the evil 
to come." I say " none considering that he is taken away from 
the good he might have done." Now not one man remains 
(that I can call a man) of all those whom I began work with, 
five years ago. And I alone, of all men " most deject and 
wretched," survive them all. I am sure I meant to have died. 
. . . Ever, dear Papa, your loving child, F. 

Her grief was accompanied and intensified by some 
remorse : — 

{Miss Nightingale to Harriet Martineau.) Hampstead, 
Sept. 24 [1861]. . . . And I, too, was hard upon him. I told 
him that Cavour's death was a blow to European liberty, but 
that a greater blow was that Sidney Herbert should be beaten 
on his own ground by a bureaucracy. I told him that no man 
in my day had thrown away so noble a game with all the winning 
cards in his hands. And his angelic temper with me, at the same 
time that he felt what I said was true, I shall never forget. I 
wish people to know that what was done was done by a man 
strugghng with death — to know that he thought so much more 
of what he had not done than of what he had done — to know 
that all his latter suffering years were filled not by a selfish desire 
for his own salvation — far less for his own ambition (he hated 
office, his was the purest ambition I have ever known), but by 
the struggle of exertion for our benefit. 

Happily for her peace of mind there came to her an 
almost immediate call to be up and doing in the service 
of her " dear master," as in her letters of this time she 
constantly named Sidney Herbert. 


The newspapers had at first been somewhat grudging in 
their obituary notices of him. He had been thought of in 
connection more with the defects of the War Office during the 
early months of the Crimean War, than with his services as 
a reformer. His family and his friends were pained, and 
on their behalf Mr. Gladstone applied to Miss Nightingale, 
She did not feel well enough to see him, and, on August 6, he 
wrote explaining the case, " taking the liberty of intruding 
upon her for aid and counsel," and asking " the assistance of 
her superior knowledge and judgment in a matter which so 
much interests our feelings." Miss Nightingale instantly set 
to work and wrote a Memorandum on Sidney Herbert's work 
as an Army Reformer. She wrote quickly, but with her 
usual care in giving chapter and verse for every statement. 
The Memorandum was anonymous, and was marked 
" Private and Confidential " ; but she had it printed, and 
circulated it among Lord Herbert's friends and various 
publicists. Among those who saw it was Abraham Hay ward 
who, when a memorial to Lord Herbert was being mooted a 
few weeks later, strongly urged that she should be asked to 
publish the Paper. " No one," he wrote, " could or would 
misconstrue her motives. Nothing has been more remark- 
able in her beneficent and self-sacrificing career than its 
unobtrusiveness. It has only become famous because its 
results were too great and good to be shrouded in silence and 
retirement. Admirably as she writes, she is obviously never 
thinking about her style ; which, for that very reason, is 
most impressive ; and I feel quite sure that the Paper in 
question would suggest no thought or feeling beyond con- 
viction and sympathy." ^ 

The Memorandum, in so far as it relates to what Sidney 
Herbert did, has been described and quoted above ; but at 
the end of it, Miss Nightingale was careful to touch upon 
what he had meant to do and what remained for others to do. 
" He died before his work was done." The work on which 
his heart was set was the preservation of the health, physical 
and moral, of the British soldiers, " This is the work of 
his which ought to bear fruit in all future time, and which his 
death has committed to the guardianship of his country." 

''■ Letter (Nov. 20) to Count Strzelechi, for whom see below, p. 410. 


Having finished her Memorandum, Miss Nightingale sent 
it to Mr. Gladstone. She knew how warm had been the 
friendship between him and Sidney Herbert, She thought 
that in the friend who remained the saying might perchance 
come true : uno avulso non deficit alter. At any rate it was 
her duty to throw out the hint. So she underlined, as it 
were, the closing words of her Paper by offering to talk with 
Mr Gladstone about the unfinished work which, as she knew, 
was nearest to Sidney Herbert's heart. To this overture, 
Mr. Gladstone replied in a letter, giving account of his 
friend's funeral : — 

{W. E. Gladstone to Florence Nightingale.) 11 Carlton 
House Terrace, Aug. 10 [1861]. The funeral was very sad 
but very soothing. Simplicity itself in point of form, it was 
most remarkable from the number of people gathered together, 
and especially from their demeanour. Many men were weeping : 
not one miconcerned face among several thousands could be seen. 
But it all brings home more and more the immense void that he 
has left for all who loved, that is for aU who knew, him. ... I 
read last night with profound interest your important paper. 
I see at once that the matter is too high for me to handle. Like 
you I know that too much would distress him, too little would not. 
I am in truth ignorant of military administration : and my 
impressions are distant and vague. It is your knowledge and 
authority more than that of any living creature that can do him 
justice, at the proper time, whenever that may be — do him justice, 
as he would like it, without exaggeration, without defrauding 
others. I shall return the paper to you : but of it I venture to 
keep a copy. . . . 

With respect to your making known to me the " three 
subjects " I \rill beg you to exercise your own discretion after 
simply saying this much ; my duty is to watch and control on 
the part of the Treasury rather than to promote officially depart- 
mental reforms. To him I could personally suggest : I am not 
sure that I should be justified in taking the same liberty with 
Sir G. Lewis, especially new to his work. On the other hand, 
my desire to promote Herbert's wishes, as his wishes, was not 
stronger than my confidence in his judgment as an administrator. 
(If I now seem reluctant to touch that subject it is for fear I 
should spoil it.) In the conduct of a department he seemed to 
me very nearly if not quite the first of his generation. — I remain, 
dear Miss Nightingale, Very sincerely yours, W. E. Gladstone. 

On the afternoon of November 28, in Willis's Rooms — in 


the same place where, in the same month six years before, 
Mr. Herbert had spoken in support of a memorial to Miss 
Nightingale's honour, a public meeting was held to promote 
a memorial to him. " I think you would have been 
satisfied," wrote Mr. Gladstone to her on the same evening, 
" even if a fastidious judge, with the tone and feeling of the 
meeting to-day. I mean as regards Herbert. As respects 
yourself, you might have cared little, but could not have been 
otherwise than pleased. I made no allusion to you in con- 
nection with the paper you kindly sent me, although I made 
some use of the materials. I acted thus after conference 
with Count Strzelechi,^ and with his approval. I thought 
that if I mentioned you along with that paper, I should seem 
guilty of the assumption to constitute myself your organ." 
Miss Nightingale's Paper, summarizing Lord Herbert's 
services to the health and comfort of the British Army, 
formed, indeed, the staple of more than one of the speeches,^ 
and the long alliance between them in that cause, which has 
been the subject of preceding chapters in this Memoir, was 
frequently referred to at the meeting. General Sir John 
Burgoyne said breezily that Lord Herbert's " hobby was to 
promote the health and comfort of the soldier, and his pet 
was Miss Nightingale, who had for many years devoted 
herself to the same pursuit." Mr. Gladstone mentioned 
as Lord Herbert's " fellow-labourer " the " name of Miss 
Nightingale, a name that had become a talisman to all 
her fellow-countrymen." And Lord Palmerston, the Prime 
Minister, in associating the Commander-in-Chief with the 
late Minister for War, added that " they did not labour alone. 
They were not the only two ; there was a third engaged in 
those honourable exertions, and Miss Nightingale, though 
a volunteer in the service, acted with all the zeal of a 
volunteer, and was greatly assistant, as I am sure your Royal 
Highness will bear witness, to the labours of your Royal 
Highness and Lord Herbert." 

1 Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelechi, K.C.M.G., C.B., known as Count 
Strzelechi, Australian explorer, of Polish descent, though a naturahzed 
EngUshman, was a great friend of Lord and Lady Herbert, whom he had 
accompanied on their last journey abroad. He took a prominent part in 
organizing the Herbert Memorial. 

^ They are collected in a pamphlet (August 1867) entitled Memorial 
to the Late Lord Herbert. 



The alliance which was dissolved by Lord Herbert's 
death is probably unique in the history of politics and of 
friendship. " As for his friendship and mine," said Miss 
Nightingale, " I doubt whether the same could ever occur 
again." ^ For five years the politician in the public eye, and 
this woman behind the scenes, were in active co-operation ; 
often seeing each other daily, at all times in uninterrupted 
communication. There have been other instances in which 
the same thing has happened, but happened with many 
differences. There have been statesmen who have made 
confidantes of their wives, and who have found in them wise 
counsellors and helpful supporters. Sidney Herbert himself 
received much help in his public work from his wife, to whom 
he was devotedly attached. In some pencilled jottings 
about her friends. Miss Nightingale records a beautiful trait ; 
Sidney Herbert made it a rule, she says, to mark each anni- 
versary of his wedding-day by beginning some new work of 
kindness towards others. Yet there was room in the ordering 
of his life, during the five years following the Crimean War, 
for taking constant counsel from another woman — so con- 
stant as, perhaps, in the days of his illness and over-work 
to cause his wife some anxiety. Yet Miss Nightingale was 
as dear to the wife as she was helpful to the husband, and 
affectionate friendship between her and Mrs. Herbert was not 
impaiied. There have been many statesmen, again, and 
many other eminent men, who have found inspiration or 
support, no less than solace or pleasure, in the friendship of 
women. But Sidney Herbert's attraction to Miss Nightin- 
gale, and hers to him, were on a plane by themselves. She, 
indeed, was susceptible, as was every man and every woman 
who knew him, to Sidney Herbert's singular charm and 
courtesy ; she admired the brilliance of his conversation ; 
she felt pleasure in his presence. And he, with his quick 
perception, must have enjoyed the ready humour which 
played around Miss Nightingale's wisdom. But they were 
also comrades or colleagues even as men are. " A woman 

^ Letter to Harriet Martineau, September 24, 1861. 


once told me," Miss Nightingale said to an old friend, 
" that my character would be more sympathized with by 
men than by women. In one sense I don't choose to 
have that said. Sidney Herbert and I were together 
exactly like two men — exactly like him and Gladstone." ^ 

The secret of this rare friendship between Sidney Herbert 
and Miss Nightingale is to be found, first, in the fact that the 
character and gifts of the one were precisely complementary 
to those of the other. Though of a sanguine temperament, 
Sidney Herbert had the politician's caution. Miss Nightin- 
gale, though of an eminently practical genius, was eager and 
full of impelling force. She supplied inspiration which he 
had the means of translating into political action. Sidney 
Herbert had the political mind ; Miss Nightingale, the 
administrative. Not indeed that he was deficient in some 
of the administrative gifts, or she in political instinct. But 
what was peculiarly characteristic of her was the combina- 
tion of a firm grasp of general principles with a complete 
command of detail ; and in the particular work in which 
they were engaged, her experience supplied what he lacked. 
" I supplied the detail," she said herself ; " the knowledge of 
the actual working of an army, in which official men are so 
deficient ; he supplied the political weight." ^ Each was 
thus indispensable to the other. And they were united by 
perfect sympathy in the service of high ideals. " He," 
wrote Miss Nightingale of Sidney Herbert, " with every 
possession which God could bestow to make him idly enjoy 
life, yet ran like a race-horse his noble course, till he fell — 
and up to the very day fortnight of his death struggled on 
doing good, not for the love of power or place (he did not 
care for it), but for the love of mankind and of God." ^ He 
was, " in the best sense," she wrote elsewhere, " a saver 
of men." * In that honourable record Miss Nightingale 
deserves an equal place with her friend. 

^ Letter to Madame Mohl, Dec. 13, 1861. 

^ Letter to Harriet Martineau, Sept. 24, 1861. 

^ Dublin (Bibliography A., No. 28), p. 8. 

* Herbert (Bibliography A., No. 29), p. 3. 




The everyday management of a large ward, let alone of a hospital, the 
knowing what are the laws of life and death for men, and what the laws of 
health for wards (and wards are healthy or unhealthy mainly according to 
the knowledge or ignorance of the nurse) , are not these matters of sufficient 
importance and difficulty to require learning by experience and careful 
inquiry, just as much as any other art ? — Florence Nightingale : Notes 
on Nursing. 





It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first require- 
ment in a Hospital that it should do the sick no harm. It is quite necessary, 
nevertheless, to lay down such a principle, because the actual mortality in 
hospitals, especially in those of large crowded cities, is very much higher 
than any calculation founded on the mortality of the same class of diseases 
among patients treated out of hospitals would lead us to expect. — Flor- 
ence Nightingale (1863). 

The work for the health of the soldiers, which has been 
described in the preceding Part, filled the larger part of Miss 
Nightingale's life during the five years after her return from 
the Crimean War ; and in 1856, 1857, 1858 it occupied nearly 
the whole of her time. The work lasted for almost exactly 
five years, from the day of her return from Scutari (August 
1856) to the day of Lord Herbert's death (August 1861). 
But into those strenuous years Miss Nightingale had crowded 
much other work besides. It has been necessary, for the 
sake of clearness and coherence, to treat the subject of Army 
sanitary reform consecutively in a single Part. In the 
present Part the other main occupations of Miss Nightingale's 
life during the same period, and more especially during the 
years 1859, i860, and 1861, will be desciibed. 

The story of her life and work may be divided for con- 
venience into separate Parts ; but in her own mind each of 
the branches of effort into which successively she threw 
herself were connected parts of a larger whole. Her ex- 
periences in the Crimean War, and the emotions which grew 
out of them, had caused her to throw her first efforts into 
the cause of reform in the interest of her " children," the 
British soldiers. But all the time she saw with entire clear- 



ness that the health of the Army was only part of a larger 
question ; namely, the health of the whole population from 
which the soldiers are drawn. She had made her reputation 
by work in military hospitals, and her first effort was to 
improve them, but she saw that the condition of civil 
hospitals was the larger and the more important matter. 
And she saw further still that hospitals are at best only a 
necessary evil ; a necessity, as some one has said, in an inter- 
mediate stage of civilization. The secret of national health 
is to be found in the homes of the people. If in a particular 
town or quarter, for instance, there was excessive infant 
mortality, the remedy, as she said, was not to be found in 
building more children's hospitals there She was famous 
throughout the world as a war-nurse ; but she knew that 
the difficulties which she had encountered in that sphere 
were due to the fact that the art of nursing was so ill under- 
stood at home. Her vision took wider scope, and her efforts 
to improve the well-being of the people embraced, as we shall 
hear, both India and the Colonies. Mr. Disraeli, in a famous 
speech ^ delivered the saying Sanitas sanitatum, omnia 
Sanitas, but that was in 1864 ; it was Miss Nightingale's 
motto many years before. When the extent of her range 
and the depth of her influence are considered, the claim 
made for her by an American writer will not seem exagger- 
ated : she was " the foremost sanitarian of her age." ^ Our 
immediate concern is with her life and work, first, as a 
Hospital Reformer (Chaps. I., II.), and then as the founder 
of Modern Nursing (Chaps. HI., IV.). 

Miss Nightingale's authority on the subject of Hospitals 
ruled paramount in the years following the Crimean War 
— as the reference of the Netley plans to her has already 
indicated. Popularity and prestige were confirmed by a 
practical experience which at the time was probably unique. 
" Have you," she was asked by the Royal Commission of 
1857, " devoted attention to the organization of civil and 
military hospitals ? " " Yes," she replied, " for thirteen 
years. I have visited all the hospitals in London, Dublin, 
and Edinburgh, many county hospitals, some of the naval 

1 At Aylesbury, Sept. 21, 1864. ^ Nutting, vol. ii. pp. 207-8. 

CH. I " NOTES ON HOSPITALS " (1859) 4^7 

and military hospitals in England ; all the hospitals in Paris, 
and studied with the ' soeurs de charite ' ; the Institution of 
Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth, on the Rhine, 
where I was twice in training as a nurse ; the hospitals at 
Berlin, and many others in Germany, at Lyons, Rome, 
Alexandria, Constantinople, Brussels ; also the war hospitals 
of the French and Sardinians." Her authority on the sub- 
ject was strengthened yet more when her Papers, already 
mentioned,^ which were read at Liverpool in October 1858, 
were, early in the following year, published, with additional 
matter, as a book. " It appears to me," wrote Sir James 
Paget, in acknowledging a copy of the book, Notes on Hos- 
pitals, "to be the most valuable contribution to sanitary 
science in application to medical institutions that I have 
ever read." The book has not been reprinted since 1863, 
and is now, perhaps, forgotten ; but, if so, that is the 
necessary fate of many a notable book. The pioneers 
of one generation are forgotten when their work has passed 
into the accepted doctrine and practice of another. In its 
day Miss Nightingale's Notes on Hospitals revolutionized 
many ideas, and gave a new direction to hospital con- 

Sir James Paget's words accurately suggest the nature 
of Miss Nightingale's work in this field. Before she wrote, 
there was sad need of the application of sanitary science to 
many of our hospitals. The rate of mortality in them was 
terribly high. Hospitals created almost as many diseases 
as they cured ; there was hospital gangrene, hospital 
pyaemia, hospital erysipelas, hospital fever, and so forth. It 
was even questioned whether great hospitals were not, 
and must not necessarily be, producers of disease. Miss 
Nightingale showed that there was no such necessity. By 
the light of sanitary science, she traced back the excessive 
mortality in hospitals to its true causes, in original defects 
in the site, in the agglomeration of a large number of sick 
under the same roof, in deficiency of space, deficiency of 
ventilation, deficiency of light. In a second section of her 
book, going more into detail, she enumerated " Sixteen 
Sanitary Defects in the Construction of Hospital Wards," 

1 Above, p. 383. 
VOL. I 2 E 


adding to the statement of each defect precise suggestions 
of a remedy. She added a series of equally detailed hints on 
hospital construction, illustrating them by careful plans, 
exterior and interior, of some of the best modern hospitals 
and of the worst old ones. Some of my readers may be 
acquainted only with modern hospitals, and it will be well 
perhaps to describe the defects in the old style of hospital. 
Many of the hospitals and infirmaries, as they existed when 
Miss Nightingale started her crusade, had been built with 
no consideration for the sub-soil, and the drainage of them 
was very imperfect. The wards were sadly overcrowded, 
often as much as three or four times over, tried by the present 
standard of the number of cubic feet desirable per bed. 
Ventilation was defective. The wards were often low. 
There were frequently more than two beds between the 
windows. Little attention had been given to the supreme 
importance of having floors, walls, and ceilings which were 
non-absorbent. The furniture of the wards, and the utensils, 
were such as would be condemned to-day as hopelessly 
insanitary. Miss Nightingale found it necessary to enter 
in some detail upon the desirability of iron bedsteads, hair 
mattresses, and glass or earthenware cups, etc. (instead of 
tin) ; as also upon that of sanitary forethought in the con- 
struction of sinks and other places. Hospital kitchens and 
laundries at home were not quite so bad as at Scutari ; but 
many of the kitchens were still very primitive, and many of 
the laundries inspected by Miss Nightingale were " small, 
dark, wet, unventilated, overcrowded, so full of steam 
loaded with organic matter that it is hardly possible to see 
across the room." All this is now, for the most part, a 
thing of the past ; and the passing of it is due, in large 
measure, to Miss Nightingale. Coinciding, as her book did, 
with a movement for increased hospital accommodation, 
and coming with the prestige of a popular heroine, her 
Notes on Hospitals opened a new era in hospital reform. 
There had, it is true, been improvement before her time ; 
and she was not the one and only discoverer of the simple 
principles which she enunciated, and which are now the 
A B C of the subject. But the general level of thought or 
practice does not always rise to the height of the better 


opinion ; it depends too often upon the average opinion 
of the day. Moreover, in some matters, there was, at the 
time when she wrote, a conflict of principles, in which the 
victory was generally given to the wTong side. The bene- 
ficial effect of fresh air was not always denied ; but the 
advantage of securing warmth by shutting the windows, and 
relying upon artificial methods of ventilation, was in practice 
considered paramount. Miss Nightingale was a pioneer in 
the consistent emphasis which she gave to the supreme 
necessity of fresh air, and to the importance of " direct 
sunlight, not only daylight, except perhaps in certain 
ophthalmic and a small number of other cases." She based 
her contention in these matters on scientific principles ; she 
supported it from her experience and observation in the 
Crimean War and in foreign hospitals. In many quarters her 
ideas were new and revolutionary. We have heard already 
what " a bitter pill " it was to one eminent medical official of 
her day to swallow the idea of " pavilions " in hospital con- 
struction. ^ Lord Palmerston explained in the House of 
Commons in 1858 that, " strange as it might appear, con- 
sidering the progress of science in every department, it was 
only within a few years that mankind has found out that 
oxygen and pure air were conducive to the well-being of the 
body." 2 And in the matter of the curative effect of light. 
Miss Nightingale cited from an official publication the case of 
a well-known London physician, who " whenever he enters a 
sick-room, takes care that the bed shall be turned away from 
the light." " An acquaintance of ours," she added, " pass- 
ing a barrack one day, saw the windows on the sunny side 
boarded up in a fashion peculiar to prisons and penitenti- 
aries. He said to a friend who accompanied him, ' I was 
not aware that you had a penitentiary in this neighbourhood,' 
' Oh,' said he, ' it is not a penitentiary, it is a military 
hospital.' " ^ Miss Nightingale's general principles com- 
manded the hearty support of the better medical opinion, 
and to many medical men her details, drawn from observa- 
tion in the best foreign hospitals, afforded new and useful 

^ Above, p. 342. 

^ Speech on Lord Ebrington's Resolutions, May ii, 1858. 

* Notes on Hospitals, 1859, pp. 100, 108. 


hints ; while at the same time she commanded in a singular 
degree the ear of the general public, including town coun- 
cillors, guardians, and benevolent persons. It was in this 
way that her book did so much to improve the level of 
hospital construction and hospital arrangement in this 

Upon the construction of military hospitals — whether 
general or attached to particular barracks — Miss Nightingale 
was consulted constantly and as a matter of course. In 
1859, it will be remembered, Mr. Herbert became Secretary 
for War ; and in i860 Captain Galton was appointed 
temporary assistant inspector-general of " Fortifications " — 
a department which included works for barracks and hospi- 
tals. She respected Captain Galton's abilities, and liked 
him personally very much. He and Mr. Herbert took her 
advice upon all works within her province, and the plans of 
the new General Hospital at Woolwich in particular owed 
much to her suggestive ingenuity. She even drew up the 
heads of the specifications for it. Even where she was not 
directly consulted or concerned, her influence and the 
standard she had set up in her book had an effect. Medical 
officers and military governors sought leave to be able to 
quote her approval of hospitals under their charge. It 
would, as one naively wrote to her, improve their chances 
of promotion. 

A more direct result of the publication of Notes on 
Hospitals was to bring in upon Miss Nightingale copious 
requests for advice from the committees or officials of 
civic hospitals and infirmaries throughout the country. To 
all such requests she readily responded. Writing was with 
her a means to action ; and when she was given any chance 
of translating " Notes " into deeds, no trouble was too great 
for her. She had decided views of her own, but in particular 
cases she often consulted other experts. Dr. Sutherland, 
one of the leading authorities in such matters, was, as we 
have seen, constantly with her. To her kinsman by 
marriage, Captain Galton, she frequently referred ; and she 
sometimes engaged Sir Robert Rawlinson professionally to 
prepare plans and specifications for her to submit to those 
who asked her advice. He on his part often consulted her 


in regard to hospitals and infirmaries on which he had been 
called in to advise. Her advice was sought both by those 
who were actually projecting new hospital buildings and by 
those who were leading crusades for the reconstruction of 
their local institutions. Among her papers there is a 
mass of correspondence, specifications, plans, memoranda of 
all sorts, referring to such matters. Technical details are 
often relieved by touches of Miss Nightingale's humour. 
Here are two examples from her letters to Captain Galton 
— (March 24, 1861) : " I understand that Baring ^ won't 
ventilate the Barracks in summer because the grates are 
not hot enough in winter. Why are the men to die of foul 
air in August because they are too cold at Christmas ? I 
think Baring must be an army doctor." (June 20, 1861) : 
" Is the Architect's ideal the profile of a revolver pistol ? 
If you look at the block plan in this point of view, 
it is very good. But as he asks my opinion, it is that 
I would much rather be shot outside than in. As Hospital 
principles are beginning to be well known, it would be 
quite enough to engrave this plan on the card of solicita- 
tion to stop all subscriptions. No patient will ever get 
well there. And as I don't approve of the principle of 
Lock Hospitals, I had much better let it go on." The 
correspondence about hospital plans ranges in place and 
scale from Glasgow, from which city she was asked to advise 
upon cement for the walls of the Infirmary wards, to Lisbon, 
where a new institution was to be built according to her 
ideas. In 1859 "the King of Portugal asked Miss Nightingale 
through the Prince Consort to advise and report upon the 
plans for a hospital which he desired to build in memory 
of his wife, the Princess Stephanie of Hohenzollern. This 
affair occupied some of her attention, during two years, and 
caused her not a little impatience. With Dr. Sutherland's 
help, she went laboriously through the plans submitted by 
the King's architect on the assumption that the hospital was 
intended for adults. It then appeared that what the King 
wanted was a Children's Hospital. The Prince Consort, 
through Colonel Phipps, was deeply grieved at " the waste 
of Miss Nightingale's time and of her strength, so precious." 

'^ Under-Secretary for War, when Mr. Herbert was made a Peer. 


Dom Pedro V., taking an easier view, did not see that it 
mattered. A hospital, constructed for adults, but intended 
for children, would, His Majesty pleasantly suggested, 
" only give the children more room and more air." The 
King had to be given a lesson in the niceties of hospital con- 
struction. The architect and Miss Nightingale set to work 
again on amended plans. Her suggestions were warmly 
approved, on the Prince Consort's behalf, by Sir James 
Clark, and Dom Pedro sent her a cordial letter of thanks. 

At home she took similar pains with plans for the Bucks 
County Infirmary at Aylesbury ; but here it was easier 
sailing, for the chairman of the Committee was her brother- 
in-law. Sir Harry Verney, and it was promptly decided 
(i860) to rebuild the Infirmary " in accordance with the 
requirements specified in Miss Nightingale's Notes on Hospi- 
tals." In another county hospital, that at Winchester, she 
took the more interest, because one of her father's properties 
(Embley) was in the county. There is a specially volumin- 
ous correspondence on the subject, largely with Sir WilHam 
Heathcote (chairman of the Govemors),^ extending over 
several years. The old hospital was admittedly bad, but 
the first idea was to patch it up. Miss Nightingale took 
infinite pains in working up the case against this course. 
She studied the report which Sir Robert Rawlinson, the 
sanitary engineer, had sent in ; and she tabulated the 
statistics of mortality, comparing them with those of well- 
appointed hospitals on healthy sites. Thus armed, she told 
the Committee roundly that they were proposing to sink 
money in patching up a " pest-house, where a number of 
people are exposed to the risk of fatal illness from a special 
hospital disease." Was Hampshire eager, she asked, to 
emulate the evil fame of Scutari ? Then she tackled the 
financial problem. She compared the estimated cost of 
" adaptation " with that of building a new hospital on a 
better site. She submitted plans and details of her estimate. 
She promised the advice of Dr. Sutherland in the choice of 
a new site. " I understand," she wrote, " that Lord Ash- 
burton will give £1000 towards a new hospital, if built upon 
a new site ; if not, nothing." As Lady Ashburton was one 

^ Mr. Nightingale bought Embley from the Heathcote family. 


of her dearest friends, this condition was probably not un- 
prompted. On the same condition, she promised contribu- 
tions from herself and her father. She collected and sent in 
the opinions of eminent experts — civil engineers and medical 
officers — on the question. She prodded friends possessing 
local influence : " Would you please," she wrote to Captain 
Galton (Feb. 10, 1861), " devote the first day of every week 
until further notice in driving nails into Jack Bonham 
Carter,^ M.P., about the Winchester Infirmary ? " In the 
end she carried her point, and a new hospital was built by 
Mr. Butterfield on a higher and healthier site. " It is the 
greatest pleasure," the architect wrote to her (Dec. 1863), 
" to try and work out the views of one who is ably and 
earnestly endeavouring to make a reformation." Among 
other institutions upon which she advised, in this (i860) or 
immediately ensuing years, were the Birkenhead Hospital, 
the Chorlton Union Infirmary, the Coventry Hospital, the 
Guildford (Surrey County) Hospital, the Leeds Infirmary, 
the Malta (Incurables) Hospital, the Putney Royal Hospital 
for Incurables, the North Staffordshire Infirmary, and the 
Swansea Infirmary. Correspondence from foreign countries, 
and a collection of tiacts upon Hospital Construction (1863) 
sent to her from France and Belgium, show that the " re- 
formation " was widespread. In India also her book was 
found useful. " It arrived in the nick of time," wrote Sir 
Charles Trevelyan, the Governor of Madras (Aug. 10, 1859), 
" as you will see by the accompanying note from Major 
Horsley, the engineer entrusted with the preparation of the 
plan of the addition to our General Hospital." 


Like other reformers, Miss Nightingale encountered an 
occasional defeat. One was at Manchester in a cause wherein 
she was enlisted by a friend of Cobden, Mr. Joseph Adshead. 
He saw something of Miss Nightingale during these years, 
and corresponded voluminously with her. He is the subject 
of one of her clever and vivid character-sketches — a sketch 

^ Eldest son of the John Bonham Carter mentioned above (p. 29) ; 
M.P. for Winchester ; first cousin of Miss Nightingale and of Mrs. Galton. 


which throws interesting side-Hghts on her own character 
too : — 

[Miss Nightingale to Samuel Smith.) Burlington, Feb. 25, 
[1861]. Dear Uncle Sam — Adshead of Manchester is dead — 
my best pupil. . . . How often I have called him my " dear old 
Addle-head," and now he is dead. He was a man who could 
hardly write or speak the Queen's English ; I believe he raised 
himself, and was now a kind of manufacturer's agent in Man- 
chester. He was a man of very ordinary abilities and common- 
place appearance — vulgar, but never unbusiness-like, which is, 
I think, the worst kind of vulgarity. Having made " a com- 
petency," he did not give up business, but devoted himself to 
good works for Manchester. And there is scarcely a good thing 
in Manchester, of which he has not been the main-stay or the 
source — schools, infirmary, paving and draining, water-supply, 
etc., etc. At 60, he takes up an entirely new subject, Hospital 
Construction, fired by my book, and determines to master it. 
This is what I think is peculiarly Anglo-Saxon. He writes to me 
whether I will teach him (this is about 18 months ago), and com- 
poses some plans for a Convalescent Hospital out of Manchester, 
to become their main Hospital if the wind is favourable. He 
comes up to London to see me about these. The working plans 
passed eight times thro' my hands and gave me more trouble 
than anything I ever did. Because Adshead would not employ 
a proper builder, but would do them himself — which is part of 
the same character, I believe. The plans are now quite ready, 
but nothing more. He meant to beg in person all over Lanca- 
shire, and had already some promises of large sums. He had 
been asking for about a year, but never intermitted anything. 
I don't know whether you remember that I had a three-months' 
correspondence with him (and oh ! the immense trouble he took) 
about the transplantation of the Spitalfields and Coventry weavers 
to Manchester, Preston, Burnley, etc.^ ... It never came to 
anything. . . . He was 61 when he died. This is the character 
which I beheve is quite peculiar to our race — a man, a common 
tradesman, who — instead of " retiring from the world " to 
" make his salvation," or giving himself up to science or to his 
family in his old age, or founding an Order, or building a house — 

^ Miss Sellon had called her attention to the sad plight through un- 
employment of the Spitalfields weavers, as had Mr. and Mrs. Bracebridge 
to that of those at Coventry. Miss Nightingale, with help from Mr. 
Bracebridge, enlisted Mr. Adshead in a scheme for migrating them to 
Lancashire. He and she took infinite pains in the matter, but the scheme 
came to little. When it reached the point, Miss Sellon's friends were not 
ready to go. 


will patiently (at 60) learn new dodges and new-fangled ideas in 
order to benefit his native city. . . . How I do feel that it is the 
strength of our country and worth all the R. Catholic " Orders " 
put together. I hate an " Order," and am so glad I was never 
" let in " to form one. . . . 

Mr. Adshead had taken a prominent part in a movement 
to get the Manchester Royal Infirmary condemned as in- 
sanitary, and to rebuild it in better air outside the city 
boundaries. Miss Nightingale, though she did not join 
publicly in the controversy, plied Mr. Adshead with powder 
and shot. But they were defeated. Manchester decided 
to patch and not to rebuild. 

In the case of St. Thomas's Hospital in London, which 
was confronted from a different cause with the same choice, 
she was successful. Hospital officials, when in difficulty, not 
infrequently " went to Miss Nightingale." This was the 
case with Mr. Whitfield, the Resident Medical Officer of St. 
Thomas's (then on its ancient site in the Borough), when 
the future of the Hospital was threatened by the projected 
extension of the South-Eastern Railway from London Bridge 
to Charing Cross. The Railway Company sought powers 
to take some of the Hospital's land, and the opinion of the 
Governors was likely to be divided on the policy to be 
pursued. Mr. Whitfield was from the first in favour of the 
course which ultimately prevailed ; the Railway Company 
should be compelled to buy all the Hospital's land or none, 
and in the former event the Hospital should be rebuilt on 
a healthier site and on an improved plan. But there were 
others who were disposed to take the line of least resistance, 
and to be content with rebuilding on the old or an adjacent 
site so much as the railway works made necessary. Mr. 
Whitfield opened the case to Miss Nightingale in February 
1859, and besought her aid ; she entirely agreed with him, 
and threw herself whole-heartedly into the matter. Among 
the Governors of the Hospital was the Prince Consort, to 
whom she sent a careful